Monday, March 25, 2013

PAX East Reflections

Hello all!

I'm officially back from Boston and I want to share with everyone my PAX East reflections. This one will be a long post, so grab a glass of water and get comfortable.

For anyone interested in reading about my PAX Prime adventure from 2 years ago, click this link.

- The Drive -

Our trip started with a 6 hour drive up to Boston. As much as it sucks to sit in a car for 6 hours, the drive actually wasn't that bad. Good conversations, "good" music, and good traffic made the drive a breeze.


The drive from our hotel to the convention was also very smooth, with only one near-fatal accident (which is good considering how much extra traffic there was in a town already infamous for it's difficult to navigate roads).

Once we made the short drive to the convention center, we were worried about finding a place to park. PAX had us covered with a very large and inviting parking lot behind the convention center. Good guy PAX even provided a shuttle from the parking lot to the side of the building.

Overall, I think Boston did a great job hosting the convention. Cheers to Boston!

 - The Convention -

PAX never fails to deliver on showmanship. Great displays, clever marketing, hilarious costumes, and great giveaways.

Check out the pictures below to see some of the awesome displays that were set up around the venue.

- The Crowds -
To call the convention "packed" would be an understatement. The sheer volume of the swarm of geeks, nerds, and enthusiasts would put the Zerg to shame.

So many sweaty people.
The tabletop gaming area was a seething mass of people and their 20-sided dice.

Saving throws for virginity were abound.
By contrast, about 20 yards away from the tabletop area, the LAN area for PC gamers was about as docile as a sleeping kitten.

If things get any more lively a funeral might break out.
  - The Demos -

Arguably one of the best parts of the convention is the chance to play up-and-coming games, new games, and games that are still in development. I had a chance to play a handful of such games - though, admittedly, I intentionally avoided a few that didn't seem worthwhile (sorry Blizzard, Hearthstone would have put me to sleep).

One of the first games I had the chance to demo was the free-to-play, online, multiplayer, mech-based first-person shooter, Hawken. Hawken puts you in the seat of a giant mech robot and gives you a green-light to unleash hell. 

I. Want. That. Mech.
The graphics were decent and the feeling of destroying other mechs in the deathmatch style demo was very fun - although, the controls were a bit wonky which made things like turning feel really cumbersome (yes, I realize it's a giant robot... but the robots can fly, so I have to assume a flying robot would have a better turning radius than a boat).

Considering the game is F2P, I would totally be willing to give it a few spins on the hard drive.

Diablo 3 for PS3:

I already have Diablo 3 for my computer, and I barely play it because it feels so underwhelming. The demo for D3 on PS3 at the convention gave me a chance to see how the console version of the game compares to the desktop version.

The first thing I noticed is that the trimmed down games reminded me a LOT of the dungeon and dragon games, like Daggerdale. If you had told me it was D&D I wouldn't have second guessed you...

This is D&D... or is it Diablo?
Overall, the game underwhelmed me on the PS3 just like on the PC. The convenience of playing in bed (and not having to click a million times) might appeal to some people, but I'd just as soon avoid spending more money on a game that doesn't deliver, regardless of platform.

My picture is almost as underwhelming as the game.

The Elder Scrolls Online:

OK... so, I didn't actually play this demo... the line was way too long... I hate lines... so sue me...

I'm adding the game to my demo list anyway because 1) I love the Elder Scrolls series, 2) The game looked amazing based on what I saw at the convention, and 3) because this is my blog and I can do what I want.

I wish I could capture the awesomeness of the cinematic.
 I'm pretty sure the Elder Scrolls cinematic video put me in a joy-coma for about 5-minutes.

DUST 514:

This game may have a lame name, but the concept for this F2P first-person shooter is anything but lame. Game developer CCP Games has created a PS3 first-person shooter that is directly linked to its popular online MMO, Eve Online.

Not Halo

There is direct interaction between the two games; player actions in one game affect the political and economic status of the other. Personally, this feels like a groundbreaking concept and I can't remember any other game trying something so bold.

The actually gameplay was pretty generic, but when it comes to concept, CCP hit the ball out of the park (and out of the solar system, in my opinion).

I'm very excited to see how this game evolves and influences game development everywhere.

- The Swag -

As usual, PAX delivered with great swag. I walked away with a ton of shirts and other small items. I didn't take many swag pictures this year, so if you're craving freebies, check out the link at the top of the post.

- The Rest -

I had probably the worst pizza of my life at the convention, and I think it cost me close to $8. Here is a picture of bad pizza. Let us all publicly shame this pizza for being terrible.

You were awful. Just awful.
The Marvel booth had previews of the upcoming MMO set in the Marvel universe. The game looked pretty decent and I would have given it a chance if I had not been completely trolled by a female Deadpool...

I asked Ms. Deadpool for a photo, and she agreed. Realizing my poor choice of words, I added "...A picture with me!" (Yeah, I'm a loser).

"Well, that's going to cost you."

Being the smooth operator I am, I handed her a semi-edible foam ice cream cone I had gotten from some other booth about zombies and ice cream. Female Deadpool then proceeded to break my ice cream in half. :(

She spent the next 5 minutes writhing on the floor, apologizing, sobbing, and generally causing a scene. I spent the same 5 minutes begging her to stand up, so that everyone would stop wondering why she was crawling around my feet.

Basically, she is the greatest Deadpool cosplayer ever. I tip my hat to her for trolling me like a boss.

Troll level: Maximum

In conclusion, thank you to my friends for joining me, PAX for existing, Boston for hosting, and a special thanks to Lady Deadpool for being the highlight of the trip.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Blizzard Announces New Online TCG: Hearthstone

Blizzard just announced Hearthstone, the online Free to Play WoW CCG Game! More details to come soon I'm sure. See below for some of the highlights from the announcement.

  • Free to play online collectible card game.
  • Beta begins this summer, with release this year.
  • Playable on PC, Mac, and iPad.
  • The game will be easy to pick up, but have a good amount of depth and complexity.
  • The board is 3D, with lots of animations to make gameplay more exciting.
  • Over 300 cards with the initial launch
  • You can purchase more card packs for roughly $1 per five cards, or slowly earn them through gameplay.
  • There will be Basic and Expert cards, with Expert cards being broken down into categories like Common, Rare, Epic, and Legendary.
  • You’re guaranteed to receive at least one card of rare or better quality per pack.
  • Each card in the pack also has a chance to upgrade to a “Golden” version of the same card.
  • Disenchant cards that you don't want to receive dust, which is used to craft new cards.

  • There is a deck builder, which can build decks for you, or you can build your own.
  • The game will be a 1v1 game using matchmaking.
  • Playing will allow you to earn medals every week.
  • You can also play against AI at different levels of difficulty.
  • Any purchases you made during the beta will be credited back to you in the form of new, unopened card packs at launch. 
  • Opt in to beta in your account management!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

PAX East Tomorrow and Chinese Oondasta

Hey all!

Super psyched for the start of PAX East - especially psyched to hear Blizzard's big announcement scheduled for tomorrow.

Also, Blizz designer Dave Kosak tweeted an awesome picture from a Chinese server; apparently instead of skeletons, Chinese servers get tombstones when a player dies! Check it out:

Friday, March 15, 2013

PAX East!

Hello internet!

I'm excited to announce I'll be attending PAX East in Boston next week (March 22-24).

In 2004, the folks at Penny Arcade decided they wanted a show exclusively for gaming. Sure, comics, anime, and other nerd hobbies were cool, and those activities all had their own shows… so what about games? From that idea spawned a small 4,500 person event in Bellevue, Washington, focused on the culture and community that is gaming.

Since then, the show hasn’t looked back. Doubling in size each year until venue capacities were reached, in 2010 the show expanded into Boston for PAX East, drawing tens of thousands of attendees in the inaugural year. The shows in Seattle and Boston represent the two largest gaming events in North America!
Veteran readers may remember I had the pleasure of attending PAX Prime in Seattle, Washington. I'm looking forward to attending my second convention to play some awesome games, get free stuff, and take some great pictures for the blog.

Blizzard sent out an email to the press a few weeks ago about something new being at PAX East. Rumors are swirling about the announcement which was purported to be the announcement of their next game.

For more information about PAX, check the links below:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Patch 5.2

Today is patch day! Enjoy the official cinematic while we wait for the servers to come online.