PAX 2013 is now in the bag and I definitely had a lot of fun. The transition to four days was a huge move that did well in terms of scheduling panels seemed more spread out. This brings with it some problems as well. Part of moving to 4 days was to encourage folks to get the days they want, allowing more people to experience PAX as the size of the convention center is a huge limitation. In this case though, I think a lot of people travel in so not buying the entire weekend just didn't make much sense. That said I talked to a lot of folks who just got a single day pass for whatever was available, so maybe it worked better than I thought.
I was able to attend all four days and had Jason, a friend of mine, along for the ride. He did get sick from his plane ride and therefore missed Sunday and Monday, doing his best to recover. Four days is a pretty exhausting and intense experience. It doesn't help that I have been fighting some stomach issues all summer long so I was putting myself to the test on this one.
Friday I was able to hit the 13th Age 2 hour demo (which took 3 hours). This was one of my top priorities for the convention as I really wanted to experience it as a player before I get to running campaigns in the settings. Overall, I am impressed with its ability to tie the characters into the story and world. In addition it provides some nice tools such as Icon relations and backgrounds to help kick off the GM improv thought process. Afterwards, we grabbed some lunch and went to Patrick Rothfuss' panel. Holy Poo that dude is fun to listen to. He claims he doesn't have the speaking voice but it was totally engaging and covered a lot of fun questions ("3rd or 4th date" type questions). Afterwards it was a quick run through of the expo hall and then off to see the WotC booth as I heard they were looking for DMs to help out. I signed up to help run Confrontation at Candlekeep the next night and decided to play it so that I could be a bit more prepped. In the end, it was about 6 hours of gaming and a couple of hours in line plus a expo hall run through.
Saturday, Jason abandoned me to stand in line at Cards Against Humanity booth where he scored the Bigger, Blacker Box as well as the core set of cards. I made a couple passes on the expo hall where I played with the NVIDIA Shield which is just an impressive gaming device and I seriously want it. In addition it was hooked up to the ScreenBeam by Actiontec to show it off on an HDTV with only 100ms latency. Afterwards I was able to check out the action in Assassin's Creed: Black Flag in their private theater which was super nice and I have to say that I am excited for this to come out. Jason and I finished by running through the expo hall and grabbing some food before sitting in line at the Acquisitions, Inc D&D live game. Fantastic awesome fun. While standing in line, Jason let me use his NVIDIA Shield which further cemented the fact that I really want to own one and helped pass the 2 1/2 hours waiting in line. We hustled out of there and grabbed some sandwiches so that I could scarf down some food before running Confrontation at Candlekeep. The players had a good time and were really engaging. We had some old hat players and even a player who had never played a pen and paper RPG before. Got some hearty thank yous from the players as they left which felt good. Jason did the intro to D&D Next while I was running that.
Sunday, I was running solo for a while. I started by hitting the 6th floor of the Expo which I had missed as well as stopping off at the game shop booths where I was able to pick up Fluxx Boardgame, 7 Wonders, and FATE Accelerated. I also picked up a new miniature from Reaper to paint, given that I totally forgot to get a dragon in the Kickstarter. Got a demo from Fantasy Flight Games for for Cyborg while I waited to run into Lindsey from work and then we ended up playing Flame War, Zombie Dice, Through the Desert, Tsuro, and some other games which was totally fun. Lindsey and company took off, while I grabbed some food and went to be a player for the Mines of Madness DM Challenge in the Wizards' area. Unfortunately they ran out of DM, so rather than call it a night (with like 20 folks still wanting to play), I volunteered to run the session cold. It went fairly well and I think the folks had some fun even through the dungeon had its way with them.
Monday was the day of exhaustion. I again hit the expo hall early to see if there were things that I had missed. Talked to the folks at GAEMS about their portable console system which looks nice but is heavy. The screen on it is gorgeous and the speakers sounded nice. Watched some folks play Formula D which looks like a fantastically fun board game and grabbed lunch with David from work. Afterwards we played more Flame War and also Pompeii. We also checked out WiHD which we found was pronounced Why HD. This product sends HD signals over 60GHz sort of like wifi but has no lag or problems that I noticed which is impressive in the Expo hall given the amount of wireless stuff going on. They also claim only 5ms of latency which if true is very impressive.
Overall PAX was fun, and gaming with strangers and friends alike really made the experience.