RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Apr 28th 2016 at 08:00:00 AM by (wildbil52)
Posted under Games, Games


PAX East is the best all around gaming show in the NorthEast.  It is a weekend that remains circled on my calendar all year long.  From the drive home from PAX East until the next PAX East, I am excited for PAX East.  Here is a little of what I did last weekend.



For the second year in a row, my wife stayed home.  Our second son is just under 8 months old and even though my parents offered to watch our two boys for the weekend, Sarah wanted to stay with them and save a few dollars. Instead, I went with a couple of very good friends.  The first year I went to PAX East, we drove in on Friday morning.  This is a rookie mistake.  The drive to Boston is about 3 hours from where we lived at the time.  It's a Friday morning and you are driving through Hartford and Boston, so of course you are going to hit traffic.  By the time you park the car, get your gear into the hotel, and get over to the convention center, it's lunchtime.  We now drive in on Thursday, the day before the show starts.  It's harder on the wallet adding another night to the hotel bill, but it's really the best way to go. 

We go to a different pre-PAX brewery every year.  Last year was Sam Adams, this year was...


Harpoon!  This is a great brewery to hang out in.  There is lots of seating, it's walking distance from our hotel, and it was FULL of Pre-PAX nerds.  My friend Cortney was wearing a League of Legends hat.  I'm not into League at all, but people were stopping her to talk about it every 5 seconds.  We had to tell her to leave the hat in the hotel room after the first night.  Funny story about the brewery.  I'm sitting there waiting to order my beer when I get a text from an unknown number.  The text reads: "Are you at Harpoon right now?"  I answer "Yes, who is this?".  A few minutes later a guy that I worked with at Best Buy maybe 10 years ago taps me on the shoulder.  He lives in Boston now.  Small world.  If you aren't interested in my thoughts on the beers I had at Harpoon, go ahead and skip to the next paragraph. 

My favorite beer of the bunch was the Harpoon Hoppy Adventure.  It's a double IPA that has great hop content and flavor.  I also liked Camp Wannamango, but not as much as Cortney did.  I also tried Hair of the Squatch, an imperial espresso stout with 18% ABV.  This was only a 6 ounce pour and I still had to share it.

We stayed at the Renaissance Waterfront Hotel, which was probably a 5-7 minute walk from the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center(BCEC).  We normally prefer to stay at the Westin, which is attached to the BCEC, but we weren't able to book a room before they sold out.  It ended up working out alright though.  With my new fitness tracking wrist band, I was happy for the additional steps (more on that later).  Plus, the Renaissance was walking distance from Harpoon, a deli that made great breakfast sandwiches, a dozen restaurants, and more.  Once we got into the hotel, we set up the electronics station.  Gaming and collecting purists will not like this next image...


Yep.  Emulators.  I'm sorry if you don't like them, but I wanted a simple piece of hardware that we could play anything we wanted in the hotel room.  Maybe one of these years I'll get a powerpak or everdrive and bring legit hardware.  It was a good thing to have the PC though, we ended up introducing my friend Kris to the world of Steam.  More on that later.  So on Thursday night, we ate, drank, and were merry.  On Friday morning, we made our way over to the BCEC.


About 2 minutes into our walk from the hotel, we spot a wild PAX East in it's natural habitat.  It's kind of the nerdiest thrill that I feel all year.  Then we get to the main entrance where they are corralling all of the attendees like steer.....steer who enjoy video and tabletop gaming.


It actually only took about 30 minutes to get in.  We should have been there earlier.  To their credit, they did add more security stations on Saturday and Sunday, so Friday was the only day that was slow to get in.  Once we were in, we split up. 

This is why we split up, she likes to collect the PAX things and you have to get them B4 they are gone

Convention pro tip: You do not have to remain with your group during a big convention.  Actually you SHOULDN'T stay together as a group.  Similar to The Lion King, at PAX East, there is more to do than can ever be done.  The worst thing that can happen is to drag people who aren't interested in the same things that you are to the things that you like or to be dragged.  PAX East makes use of the amazing Guidebook app so that you have a digital schedule along with floorplans and reminders  in your pocket.  I recommend each attendee sets their own schedule and then compare them.  If you end up with the same things on your schedule, great.  If you end up with nothing to do during the same 2 or 3 hour stretch, awesome, meet up in console freeplay, or walk the floor, or go learn a game in tabletop.  The best advice I can give is to be fluid.  Back to us arriving.  Cortney really wanted to go to a League thing so I walked the floor for a bit.  Oh, my, the floor.


Don't let these pictures fool you, while it looks like there aren't many people on the floor, the floor isn't open yet, the floodgates have yet to open.  I'll be honest, the first day is kind of a blur.  You make your rounds on the floor going back and forth, trying to take it all in.  You try to remember which games look fun or interesting, but you don't do very much, It's kind of like your first walk through at a flea market.  You will stop and check out the coolest of things, but you are making a mental list of what looks awesome and things you should come back and check out.  Our first year, we stopped at every single table and listened to every person's spiel.  While we saw some great things, remember, The Lion King, we talked to many people at many booths that were things we just weren't that into. 

One of the first things I stopped and did was Geico Gaming's Hearthstone booth.  If you aren't familiar with Hearthstone, download it for free now on a touch device and see you in 4 months.  Here is the flavor text I came up with on short notice:

I can't tell which is sweeter, that T-Shirt or my mana curve

One of the best games we played all weekend was a game that has been out on Steam since January called Move or Die.  As the name implies, if you are not moving, your health slowly drains.  When you start moving again, your health regenerates.  The gameplay is like a mix between Super Meat Boy and Fusion Frenzy.  In a 2D Platforming area, 4 players all try to complete the same objective before the other players.  One round, everyone has a chainsaw and you need to stab the other players in the back with it.  Another round could have you trying to paint the level with as much of your color as you can in 10 seconds.  The game is very fun, very fast, and very accessible.  I have a feeling this will be the game of choice when the RFGen crew descends on my house this October.

Just great

The first panel we went to was on Friday at 4:00pm: Inside Gearbox.  Historically, this is a very fun and entertaining panel held in the main theater where the gang from Gearbox entertains and informs their fans and almost always give something awesome away.  They didn't give anything awesome away last year and they didn't give anything awesome away this year.  That is always sad, but especially sad this year when I thought there was a chance they would give us Battleborn.  Oh well, at least we got to see some magic tricks and hear some Borderlands voices from the voice actors.

Maybe next year..

One of my favorite video game inspired musical acts was on the PAX floor this year.  I just happened to catch them while they were playing my favorite song of theirs.  I can't make any promises or announcements, but I am actively pursuing them to come to RetroWorld Expo this year.


After Gearbox, it was close to dinner time.  We decided to head back to the hotel.  In the lobby, there was a booth with one of those wheels you can spin for a prize.  My buddy Caley loves spinning wheels.  He doesn't want a prize, spinning the wheel IS his prize.  We walked over and waited in line with him to spin this wheel.  We found out that the table was for the Lyft app, a hopeful Uber competitor.  Everyone who signed up for Lyft at PAX East got a $20 lift credit and their first ride free.  We didn't have to walk back and forth to the hotel unless we wanted to (gotta get those steps, son!) so that was a nice bonus.  After showers and dinner, we came back to the BCEC to se Bit Brigade.  Sorry, I don't have pics, I was too busy watching Noah McCarthy completely destroy Ninja Gaiden while the band played the soundtrack behind him.  It was unreal.  It was also bedtime.  We went  back to the hotel and got ready for day 2.

I went to several panels on Saturday and Sunday.  Again, sorry no pics, I've never been a picture taker, I guess in my old age I get to be a bit of a curmudgeon when everyone whips their phone out to record every single aspect of everything they ever do.  I'd rather experience things than record them but I guess moderation is key and I should have snapped a few shots.  Here is what I hit up:

Master of Orion - This was awesome, Nolan North and Alan Tudyk were on this panel and besides being awesome actors, they are both hilarious.

Collecting Games Without Getting Scammed or Going Broke - I feel like I have a PhD in this already, but I was really curious to hear Chris Kohler's thoughts on the subject.  I also learned that he is maybe just a little too fond of dolphins.

Bravely Second - A cool a straight forward panel about the development of Bravely Second.  The highlight was the audience chuckling everytime the Japanese producer would answer a question in Japanese and the only words we could understand were "Bravery Defaurto".

Major Nelson Radio - I love Major Nelson and I don't care who knows it.  He is awesome, genuine, straight forward, honest, and all other nice words for people.  He had an Overwatch producer with him and one of the co-hosts had to stay in Seattle so he Skyped in from home which was hilarious because he was just playing Dark Souls 3 during the entire show.  At one point, he interrupted the conversation exclaiming "OH MY GOD I DID IT!".  He then turned the camera around to show us the boss he just defeated.

Rock Band - Another really cool panel.  They always do a good job.  They announced the upcoming PDP adapter for the 360 ION drumsets as well as online multiplayer for Rock Band 4 later this year.  I asked them why we can't have an app or a Jackbox-style web integration so players can select the next song to play while the current band is playing and their answer was "Because it's hard".  Fair enough, but not what you want to hear.

I should take a moment to thank the one friend of mine who agreed (begrudgingly) to play NHL 16 with me when we had some free time to kill in console freeplay. Before anyone asks why I am playing as Tampa Bay, it's because NHL 16 forces you to play through the Stanley Cup Final from last year before you can play a game and we were short on time.

Thank you for being a friend, loser

The Saturday concerts were the ones I was really looking forward to, two acts specifically.  Paul and Storm, a criminally underrated musical comedy duo, and VGO: The Video Game Orchestra.  We arrived at the concerts after Paul and Storm had started, but still got to enjoy a few P&S classics including:


After their regular schtick, the pair brought out members of other acts for a surprisingly touching tribute to David Bowie and Prince with a heartfelt performance of Space Oddity and Purple Rain.

VGO was the last band of the night.  They opened SUPER strong with a Street Fighter medley, part of which can be seen here:


Not to poo poo on VGO, but the show was all downhill for me from there.  Not that the performace was bad, it was just music from games I wasn't familiar with and didn't have any love for.  They have also added a male vocalist with a very death metal vibe that I was just not feeling at all.  I miss the VGO performances of years past when they absolutely destroyed with amazing arrangements of Bastion's "Build that Wall", Chrono Cross' "Scar of Time", and crowd pleasers like Final Fantasy VII's "One Winged Angel".

After the concerts we returned to the hotel and settled in for the last day of PAX.  Sunday tends to be the mellowest day.  Everything is less crowded, people are just kind of checking things off their list that they forgot to do or didn't have time to do on Friday or Saturday.  And if anyone has any money left in their pockets, they do their best to spend it on the "Final day of the show" deals.  I bought a few CDs and that's about it, almost bought an Axiom Verge t-Shirt but I decided to keep my $20 like a responsible adult.  Wanted to buy Pandemic Legacy but all of the sellers were at retail price on it and I'll only pay retail at my FLGS.  PAX East is an incredible show that I thoroughly enjoy every year.  It's a great show to go to with good friends who love a good time, good gaming, good food, and NHL 16.

OH YEAH!  Remember what I said earlier about my awesome new fitness tracker that I was wearing all weekend to count up the massive number of steps I was taking?  Yeah, the battery has been dead for days and I tracked nothing.


To close out this mega post, here is a picture of two adult humans who fell asleep while browsing Reddit.




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Comments
 
Really enjoyed reading about your experience at the convention Bil (not so much editing this behemoth it though Wink ).  I've always wondered if I would enjoy myself at this type of convention and I can say that while I would probably have a nice time overall, I'd be more comfortable in a smaller setting.  I'm not a big fan of mass crowds (trampling) and of course, I'm not much into modern gaming.  Some of the speakers would be fun to listen to and I'm sure they get some of the highest quality at PAX, but other than that, the bands, and the beer, I don't know that it would be worth the cost to me. Who knows, maybe there's some things I would enjoy that I am not taking into account??

I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself at RWX last year.  I think it had a lot to do with being able to hang out with you guys, but also the smaller venue and crowd, and more personal feel of it was very comfortable and appealing to me.  I'm doing my darnedest to make it back this year.
 
These PAX events draw a lot of attention, but being stuck in the Midwest means no love. Perhaps one day there will be something big closer by. It looks like you had a great time.
 
It looks like you had a good time. One of these days I hope to attend a convention myself... maybe MGC?
 
@Duke.Togo: RFGenCon Midwest?
 
@bickman2k:Despite living in Pennsylvania, I'd DEFINITELY go/help/run this.
 
@Bill: Did you see/try Pyre? I've been hearing great things about it.
 
@singlebanana: Thanks Rich,  I wasn't planning to write as much as I did, but it just kept flowing.  I really love this event.  I know just what you mean about preferring smaller events.  Normally I do too but this big event still feels small and personal to me.  Maybe because I've been going for so long.

@Duke.Togo: You have GenCon, just start getting into board games Wink
 
@Addicted Walked by Supergiant, did not play it but it did look beautiful
 
@wildbil52: ComicCon is tomorrow, and I'm skipping that one as well. Needs the vidja games.

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