PAX East Retrospective

30 03 2010

So I’m back from PAX East and I have to say that, even though I didn’t see everything I wanted to, I still had a lot of fun. Even standing in line for 3 hours on the first day wasn’t really that bad considering it allowed me to see and hear Wil Wheaton’s excellent keynote speech. For those of you hoping for a lot of pictures and stories, be prepared for a letdown. I only have a crappy camera phone that’s temperamental, and really all the pics I did take were of me standing in line or sitting way too many rows back to see that I’m at the speech Bill Amend (creator of Foxtrot) gave. So instead I will just use text. I hope you like text.

So after the keynote I went to the expo floor to check out a few things and also try and track down one of the Intel Game-On reps handing out “lottery” tickets (long story). I eventually did succeed at the latter, in the process also swinging by the booths for Alienware and EVGA, as well as taking a look at Realtime Worlds’ new MMO, A.P.B. It seems to be coming along very nicely and I hope I can get into a beta of it before it ships, but if not no big deal. Getting back to Alienware for a bit, I got a chance to get a feel for one of their new M11x netbooks. You know, the ones that can run Crysis. Unfortunately I was only filling out a survey and not playing Crysis on it, but I liked the overall feel of the system, plus the keyboard apparently has multiple color lighting options and anybody that knows me knows I am a huge nerd for that.

I also spent some time participating in a Worms 2: Armageddon tournament for the Xbox 360, losing in the first round due to shooting myself in the foot under pressure of a time limit. I’m not bitter though, just wish I hadn’t been mashing A so much.

By and large the panels I went to during the con were ones focused on independent game development. This is something that has been at the front of my mind for a while now and I feel like I learned a lot from the panelists, including the heads of Dejobaan Games, Fire Hose Games, and MacGuffin Studios, among others. While I still will have a long road ahead of me in terms of learning how to program with anything at a competent level (right now I’m focusing on Flixel), I think it’ll be worth it if I can prototype some of the ideas I’ve been kicking around in my head. Though at this rate I’m almost considering just doing it in Game Maker just to have something to show when I say “here is an idea”.

Saturday and Sunday are actually a bit of a blur to me. I know I went to some interesting panels and all, including the aforementioned Bill Amend presentation, but it all sorta just blends together on account of being tired. I do know I missed the last two panels I wanted to go to (one on choice in games and the other on industry jobs when you aren’t a programmer or artist), but that’s not a big deal. I also used Saturday to spend a lot of time on the expo floor and playtest FireHose Games’ upcoming release, Slam Bolt Scrappers. The best way to describe this game would be a mix between Tetris, a tower defense game, and Double Dragon. Basically you control a flying muscular hero-type, beating up little demon things to get building blocks to build a tower to annihilate your opponents tower by creating large square constructions of the same color. It’s a very quirky and fun game that you really need to see in action to understand so rather than try and explain it I’ll just give a link to their site here.

So that’s about it really. I know people were probably expecting me to write more but again, tired. Plus I’m coming down with something. Good thing I wasn’t sick at the con itself.

Oh, and one last note, Muzzy Lane Software was giving out copies of their historical WWII strategy game “Making History”. As a history and strategy buff I was glad that I managed to snag a copy and learn about what they’re up to (namely, Making History II).

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