I have now completed PAX 2010. This is the 6th year in a row I have attended the gaming party/convention in Seattle. I have some really great memories from the years of going and this year was no different. This year I was able to go with my good friend Jason as well as Scott who I worked with in the spring. The first day was a little tough as I spent time remembering Ben who went with me to 3 of these, but they were great memories.
So what happened? What did I see? What impressed me?
This year had a completely awesome line-up of sessions and talks. There were more good talks than time to hit them all (especially when you consider the lines). Normally I spend a lot of time playing board games and card games with random awesome people, but with all the talks and still needing to hit the expo hall, I was only able to spend a little time doing that.
The keynote by Warren Spector was fantastic and really brought up excellent points about growing this niche community into something large and more welcoming. He mentioned the close knit behavior of the community has lead to to be a bit exclusive and that would not help it. He talked about legislation that we should fight that would limit the ability of developers and visionaries in the industry from creating and expressing what they want to tell in stories, where authors and artists and actors have protections of freedom of speech. We should welcome those that play Farmville as gamers and help introduce them to the fun they can have with all games. Great talk. Great points.
The Penny Arcade Q&A was great. Normally I have to leave those due to some pretty awkward lines of questions, but the questions this year were smart and pointed. The responses from Mike and Jerry were funny and insightful as well. The proposal during the Q&A was very sweet as well.
Perhaps my favorite session was the Acquisitions Inc. D&D live show which involved Mike, Jerry, Scott Kurtz, and Wil Wheaton along with DM Perkins. It was hilarious. Sometimes the players were so funny, that I wondered if it was completed scripted. There is just a good quick wit that it created a wonderful funny story. I have heard rumors they will post the audio from the segment at some point soon and I recommend checking it out.
Wil Wheaton presented later on at his Awesome Hour. He told a short story about playing games with his wife and how as a "non-gamer" and a gamer it was really about spending time together that makes the games we play so absolutely special. Even when we lose on a word like "vux" or "vix".
Bill Amend covered more of his favorites from the FoxTrot collection of comics. What I found to be the best part of the talk was the Q&A where we got to see how he looks at the creative process, love of games, treading into other artists' territories, and also how to almost blow up your house by starting a very old furnace.
Our final session was listening to the XBOX live enforcement team talk about how they wield their banhammer to try and keep Live a place that people want to go to. It was interesting and very, very Microsoft in feel.
My biggest beef with this years PAX was the main theater being at Benaroya hall. The space was just too limited in space and wonder if by extending into the Convention Center Annex we could bring it back up to the old keynote/concert hall. Normally I love to catch the concerts, but this year, I was unable to get in. I barely got into the keynote and I arrived 1 hour early. It seems like we had 2x the space last year that we did this year just so they could expand the expo hall. Hmmm.
As for the expo hall, there were a couple mega exhibits built around Duke Nukem Forever (didn't check out), Portal 2 (didn't check out), Dragon Age 2 (didn't check out), and Deadspace 2 (didn't check out). The lines at these locations were ridiculous. What I did get to do hands on was to take a look at 3D gaming technologies and play a couple of games that had shorter lines. First off, 3D gaming was absolutely incredible. It looks absolutely gorgeous and I truly believe that this is the future of gaming even with the ridiculous glasses. But it definitely isn't now. It doesn't really add anything of value and is mainly like the move from standard def or EGA to high def or SVGA. I checked out Trine and Guild Wars 2 in 3D and in both cases I was floored at their beauty, but felt that something was just missing from the experience and that doesn't even include the massive price tag. I also played Fallout New Vegas which should be a blast when it comes out (and very much like Fallout 3). NBA Jam was lots of fun, but I am not sold on the wiimote and nunchuk form of playing it. The new Mortal Kombat was very pretty and gory. War of the North was really awesome looking. Torchlight 2 was also very impressive and brings much needed multiplayer to an already incredible game.
On the table top front, thank you Steve Jackson Games for Zombie Dice which turned out to be the best line game of all time as it is quick, fun, and easy to pack and move when the lines shift. Otherwise, I didn't really get a chance to do more :(
3 days are gone. I miss it a little already even with the aches and pains from hiking with a loaded backpack. I miss most the really great folks that go and can interact and not be complete jerks about it.