August 31, 2008

PAX 2008 Re-Cap

So this marks my 3rd consecutive year of attending the Penny-Arcade Expo (PAX). Friday and most of Saturday were mostly not the awesome swag getting that I remembered from last year, but I made up for it on Sunday by getting 4 T-shirts within an hour, five if you count the one I bought. Six if you count the one that I got at the Rockstar booth for Zach (the woman just shoved small t-shirts at me and I came out with two). The other cool swag that I got were Penny-Arcade postcards depicting their first D&D 4th Edition Quest (which we also recently finished) and a air gun that shoots little balls. Speaking of balls, I barely saw any Bawls at this year's PAX. I maybe saw one or two empty bottles lying about, but it was definitely not at the forefront of anyone's consciousness. Maybe they're going under? Hahaha...no one likes the bawls. I also didn't see very many raffles and such going on; it was very hard to figure out how and when to get the swag. I didn't attend any extraneous panels this year, which is a deviation from previous years, and I feel like I didn't really miss out. Sadly I didn't get to see Jonathan Coulton, but it was probably for the best...I'm not sick yet from the lack of sleep and running around!
Okay, now, for the more detailed day by day recap:

Thursday
We participated in the Pre-PAX Pub Crawl, also known as the Tri-Wizard Tourny. It was pretty crazy, and we actually met some people, both of which we saw again later at PAX. So that was pretty cool. I was apparently dressed up as Ada Wong from Resident Evil. Maybe next year I'll be a little more accurate. It was pretty fun, though crashing at the guys' place was not so great. Highlights: the make-out session, cream cheese, onion, and ketchup hot dog, and people surreptitiously taking pictures of me.

Friday
PAX begins!! I get up early and take the bus down to the WA Convention Center to stand in line. Zach does not come with because he drank too much the night before and was still feeling ill and needed more sleep. About being in line for a while, I've finished going through the PAX schedule and decide I'm bored enough to try to make friends with the nice looking guy standing next to me. He's not especially talkative initally, but luckily Ben spots me and comes to stand in line with me. He subsequently steals my new friend that's supposed to entertain me and starts to talk shop. And I'm still mostly bored. Once inside the expo hall, three seconds later I spot Zach. Turns out waiting in line was completely worthless. We wander around and completely squander the fact that we're early to the expo (i.e., we should have stood in line for something worth playing, like Left4Dead and RockBand2).
Highlights: the beginning of the Q&A Panel was f-ing BADASS EPIC AWESOME. Everyday I'm hustlin', everyday I'm hustlin'...

Saturday
My fave day at PAX, hands down. In the morning, we got up early and headed over to help some friends move. They had some difficulty getting the van and stuff so they were about 1/2 hour late. It was kind of cold outside and I didn't bring a jacket since I assumed I'd be getting pretty warm from moving stuff. It was warm inside, but Zach was just sitting and sleeping and outside, I chatted with the guys for a little bit but then they also retreated to their car to sleep. So I was bored. I ended up entertaining myself by climbing around and jumping off the porch. However, since I was launching myself off to get the most air to do a cool move before hitting the ground, the momentum practically forced me to do a roll after landing. It was exhilarating, silly, and slightly embarrassing, which resulted in me laughing uncontrollably. It's been a really really long time since the rebellious daredevil f-what people think (sort of) side of me has had an opportunity to get some fresh air. Though I guess the rocking out dancing I did for a RockBand song last week counts too. I used to do that kind of shit all the time. But over time it became more important to me to be the cute, silly, slightly befuddled girl than it was for me to be badass and do things for the shock value. I guess it was growing out of being a teenager. Anyway, I did it to impress people and shake their impression that I was just some quiet asian girl and I think I'm more stable now about who I am as a person that I don't need to do outrageous things to convince myself and others that I'm not stuck in some box. At the same time, it is completely refreshing and freeing to know that I'm still capable of thinking up and following through with my harebrained shenanigans.
Anyway, then at PAX, we hung out in the expo hall until it closed, with a short break to Starbucks near the end. I didn't get very much accomplished, I think I tried winning a t-shirt and failed miserably and kind of played the new Viva Pinata, but I couldn't figure out how to do anything. The coolest thing was watching a game that's not out yet, The Maw. The environment just looked really beautiful and cute. In retrospect, if I had known it was a PAX 10 contender, I would have voted for it.
After the expo hall closed, we putzed around for a while and then stumbled upon the RockBand freeplay area and they were playing Weezer and everyone was singing along and clapping along. There was some really great community there. Then we went over to the Annex and I got to participate in a large manual, old style adventuring quest, Action Castle, which was pretty cool, even though I almost "used" the fishing rod on the lake. I got to demo Burning Wheel and managed to kick some major ass as the lowly rat guide. It seemed like everyone else also enjoyed watching the demo and that it was a pretty good indicator of what the game play/style/fights are like. The guys actually talk a little bit about their experience doing 5.5 hours of demos on their forum. It looks like there'll be a podcast about it on Tuesday from Front Row Crew. I'll be interested to see if any of my demo session was worth mentioning :). It was a great time, though I was pretty anxious/nervous/hyped up and had the shakes for a good first half of the demo. Then we went back over to the RockBand area and stood in line for a really long time and played Highway Star for everyone. It was super exciting performing for a crowd though the drums were quite a bit harder to play due to the height, chair, and they seemed modded so I had to hit them quite a bit harder for it to register. I didn't get to see any of the cool stuff that everyone did to warm up the crowd, but it seemed like everyone really liked it. I got a high-five afterwards from some random guy. It was a good way to end the night.

Sunday
Got to sleep in a little and got to PAX around 11 or so. Hung around the expo hall doing pretty much nothing else but get t-shirts. We were quite successful at the endeavor too. I stood in line for the second Q&A and not a bit too soon since I managed to be the second to last question. I felt like I stuttered a lot of was weird sounding but Zach said that compared to the other people, I sounded great. After that, Zach and I lounged around on the Sumos for a while and then went to the console freeplay area and checked out Boom Blox. It was entertaining, but we're probably not going to buy it. I have pretty unsteady hands which is a liability in that game. We have so many Wii games that we haven't finished either even though they're just go through mini games. Then we stood in line for some Taco Del Mar food and waited in line with the guys to see the final Omegathon. Which was okay, it turned out to be Vs. ExciteBike. It was f-ing hard, like many of the ancient games. It was also a total shut out, which was too bad and the guy that I was rooting for didn't win :(. Hopefully next year's final round will be cooler. I also didn't win the drawing sadly. Some girl named Grace Wong won though. It would be cool if a girl won the Omegathon someday.
Zach and I ended the day by watching Tsotsi.


Overall, I had a great time at PAX and will need to come up with a better plan next year for making the expo hall a little more worthwhile. The lines are always ridiculous (no one got to play Left4Dead or RockBand2), and the swag was more challenging to get, but there was still cool stuff to see and a surprisingly large number of booth babes this year too. Still undecided about how I feel about that. All I can say is, I can't wait for next year's PAX! I'm so glad I live in Seattle and don't have to pay tons of money to attend it. It's totally worth it.