PAX 09

PAX, to me, seems like an unlikely event. Ten years of growth and loyalty to a couple of guys that wrote a web comic that struck to the heart of games and gamers and developed into a large and thriving community of game loving individuals and nerdcore people in general. I remember when they hooked me.

Unprecedented numbers of attendees. So many that they filled the entirety of the huge Convention Center.

Last year (2008) PAX had over 58,000 attendees. This year, ticket sales are capped at 75,000 and there are less than 2,500 tickets left!

Quoted from their forums. With the exception of a few day passes, PAX 09 was completely sold out. That’s a lot of gamers.

Ian’s Favorites of PAX:

  • The free play area. Anyone could check out titles from a huge library of games and play them with other attendees.
  • Indi game showcase: The PAX 10
  • Left 4 Dead 2 (the three levels of demo were really great)
  • Brink, the new FPS RPG-ish title from Splash Damage and Bethesda
  • Shank
  • Gunnar digital lifestyle specs.

Crowd Favorites:

Here is a few details on really neat things that escaped the central focus of the convention and captured mine.

The Peregrine:

I made the expected powerglove references at their booth, but I really wanted to see how this worked. I didn’t really get a feeling about how this would make pro gamers faster over a keyboard, as they claimed that is saved an extra 20-30 actions at the pro gaming level per minute. It is a different way to play. Is it better? I’d like to hear about your experiences with it.

peregrine_1.jpg peregrine_2_black.jpg peregrine_3.jpg

Gunnar Optics:

1243659658C7dvT2tpHi_1_2.jpg

These are described as reducing eye strain and the affects of Computer Vision Syndrom (CVS).

I found that I could detect a big difference in increased quality of vision almost immediately. Since I’m in front of screens for a lot of my waking life, I bought three pair.

We also seem to be entering the age of the MMO FPS RPGs. Some of which, more or less, are coming to consoles. To name a few:

  1. Borderlands
  2. Fallen Earth
  3. Global Agenda
  4. Brink

One Last Thing:

Here’s a video podcast that I made for you guys showing some of the gems of this years PAX and informal interviews that I was able to capture. I hope you enjoy it.

4 responses to “PAX 09

  1. Nice write-up. I’m definitely jonesing for a 360 and/or PS3 after being immersed in such gaming goodness for a weekend.

    Regarding the videos, though, a couple things:

    (a) You’ve got the same game from the PAX 10 in video 2 labeled as both Liight and Trino.
    (b) Diablo III isn’t identified as such until you’ve been watching it for five minutes (through the end of video #2 and well into video #3).
    (c) Maybe harder core gamers than myself are into it, and I don’t know where you got the footage since it clearly wasn’t shot with a handheld, and yes they’re two hotly anticipated games, but 18 or so minutes of Blizzard gameplay (SC2 & D3) in just under a half hour of video strikes me as excessive. I got the idea of SC2 and D3 in about 90 seconds each.
    (d) More stuff like the opening, where you were talking with the Fallen Earth lead, is the the kind of stuff I can’t find elsewhere. Hone those interviewing skills!
    (e) I thought for sure there’d be some L4D2 coverage in the video! I’m not plugged in but figure it must be one of the more hotly anticipated games. Or did Valve have filming restrictions like Brink?
    (f) Maybe some voice-over on the less obvious games, like Liight/Trino and Osmos, for example. I didn’t have any idea what the goal was by just watching the gameplay.

    Not to nitpick, though. Nice job. I’m looking forward to getting back into gaming a bit. There were definitely a few that caught my eye while I was there. Like, for example, I couldn’t get over the visual style of Shank. That one looks fun. I checked out Closure (of PAX 10) on their website, where you can play a flash version of the game. Neat idea, with light sources defining the layout of the screen.

    That last paragraph has no flow whatsoever, but, whatever. It was a fun weekend. And I don’t think I got swine flu, so, WIN. ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Thanks for the words, Ian.

    If I was able to get some high quality footage from developer media kits, I included it. For example, I didn’t find anything readily accessible to include from Valve or Splash Damage for their games. I’m not sure why exactly, but a lot of developers are very touchy when it comes to any visuals from an unfinished game. Do you know anyone that makes purchasing decisions based on alpha releases? I sure don’t.

    There were quite a few items that I dropped from my footage because I just didn’t think it was that interesting. The Blizzard titles that have been under such tight wraps for ever was pretty cool, so I threw a lot in. My thinking was that if I wanted to see it, I’d bet that others would as well. Plus it is at the end and, since I put the more interesting things first, I thought that it worked out ok.

    Liight and Trino are both different games, but perhaps it was hard to tell based on the conditions where I captured video. I don’t think that I reused footage, but now I think I’ll watch it through one last time just to be sure.

    Trino: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfNdUv4Zofw

    Liight: http://www.studiowalljump.com/liight/
    To be released via Wiiware at some not-yet-known time.

    The Brink demo was pretty fantastic and showed some new and some of the Fable II thinking and control dynamics in a FPS. The Splash Damage CEO was pretty serious about their no camera rule which was disappointing as it was one of the better live demos that I’ve seen.

    Mostly, I wanted there to be the least amount of me and the most amount of games possible in my media. When developers were available, and they usually are not at busy events, I captured their game pitch. It’s likely no surprise to you that the most enthusiastic people were the small developers.

    I’ll take your feedback to heart when making future video podcast-style works. This was very much a fun and light attempt.

    Thanks again. ๐Ÿ˜€

  3. Wow, three Gunnars? I saw them at ’08, and they are just out of my price range. $50 would still feel a bit steep, but I’d probably go for it. If only they had some cheap plastic ones. Not like I need them to be fancy sitting in my room alone.

    • It makes sense if you think about it. I spend a lot of hours looking at screens.

      Initially I bought one pair on a heavy discount; the sunglasses. When I came back to PAX the next day, I picked up a couple more for indoor use. Next time you’re over, I’ll have you play some PS3 and them give them a try.

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