PAX 2008

PAX 2008: Reporting From the Show Floor - Saturday

John Funk | 31 Aug 2008 03:41
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PAX 2008 Show Floor Report - Saturday

10:35 - Get to the convention center. At first glance, seems to be less crowded than yesterday. Ended up being very wrong. Also ended up riding the escalator immediately in front of Felicia Day of The Guild and Dr. Horrible, got a chance to spend some time talking with her. Apparently, she's a fan of The Escapist. Very cool, and so is she.

10:40 - First glance was wrong. Very, very, wrong. The exhibitor floor is packed, way more than yesterday. The moment I cross the threshold I feel the ambient temperature rise at least ten degrees. Games that had ten-person lines yesterday have teeming throngs all around them now.

11:00 - Have an appointment with Meteor Games to check out Twin Skies. Much of the Meteor team actually worked on Neopets back in the day, and Twin Skies reflects this - it's a bizarre fusion between a casual MMOG and a series of browser-based Flash games that almost needs to be seen to really be understood. I'm not really sure what I was expecting, but what they showed me definitely wasn't it. More detail to come, because Twin Skies is one of the most interesting games I've seen at the show so far.

11:40 - Yesterday, a little bird happened to tip me off that at noon, Blizzard might be giving away some of the rare mini-Tyrael in-game pets for World of Warcraft, previously only available either at the Paris Worldwide Invitational event (or through fansite contests). It seems I wasn't the only one who heard the news, because it wasn't yet noon and the Blizzard booth was packed. Talked to a WoW fan who was familiar with the "Mage They Call Jayne(z)" series I write, which was nice.

12:00 - Trivia contest for five (of what looked like twenty or thirty) mini-Tyrael pets. The Blizzard booth now feels more like a Tokyo subway during rush hour.

12:05 - The mini-Tyrael is mine. Score!

12:10 - Head on over to Mythic booth for a look at the upcoming Warhammer: Age of Reckoning. Get a quick overview of the game from Spyke Alexander, Associate Producer. I'd assumed they'd been calling him "Spike" just as a nickname until learning otherwise. Then again, as a Funk, I can sympathize.

Number of times today I've heard "Your last name is really Funk?" or some variation thereof upon passing out my card: 5

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WAR has a very solid foundation, and I'm curious to see how these ideas will pan out at launch in just about 3 weeks (and six months, a year, and so on down the road). But again, will have more details from that shortly.

1:15 - Head back on over to Turbine with fellow staffer Jonathan Steinhauer to take another look at the LotRO expansion.

1:40 - Wander a bit more around the exhibition hall. Get a chance to check out the new Guitar Hero, which essentially feels like Guitar Hero: Rock Band edition. Really, the only discernable difference between the two seems to be that the Guitar Hero drum set has one additional pad (five + bass as opposed to Rock Band's four). Well, I guess the Guitar Hero interface is also less intuitive and felt a lot clunkier with no easy way to tell how well individual players were performing. Also, I couldn't figure out how to activate Star Power on the microphone. That said, I did have a lot of fun performing the Foo Fighters' "Everlong."

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2:00 - Appointment with Cryptic, developers of Champions Online (and Star Trek Online, but they weren't showing that at the show in any form other than a constantly-looping trailer). Chat with Chris Lena, the game's Senior Producer about the game's design and then get some hands-on experience. The kiosk I was playing at was slightly buggy so I wasn't able to get a real feel for how the controls will work on the Xbox 360 version as opposed to the PC one, but given that Cryptic is actually developing the game with both platforms in mind (rather than porting it as an afterthought) will hopefully make the Xbox version smooth enough, without leaving gamers on either platform feeling slighted.

2:40 - Make my way to the Warhammer Online panel, feeling smug and on-the-ball by getting there twenty minutes early. Feel less smug when I see the ridiculously long line leading to the theater where the panel will be. They end up actually having to cut the Q&A portion of the panel and do the same presentation twice over so that everybody can see it, and they still turn the back portions of the line away.

3:00 - Wait in line for Warhammer panel, don't quite make it to the first showing. Sit around and turn on my DS while I wait. Help the Elite Beat Agents fight off an alien invasion with the power of pure, concentrated rockin' out - again.

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3:30 - Get into panel, it starts. Much more of an "entertaining" panel than an "informative" one, though we do get a chance to check out the in-game trailer for the Destruction faction that hasn't been shown before. Jeff Hickman and Paul Barnett have a very effective "comedian/straight man" routine going, and it's a fun time. Full writeup coming shortly.

4:00 - As it turns out, the "3 Years of Guild Wars" panel is in the exact same room as the Warhammer one. And there's already a comparatively-gigantic line formed once we get out. Poorly thought out on my part.

4:30 - Still, I get into the panel. This is very much a Q&A style, starting with them reading (and answering) previously-submitted questions from the online community, and then opening up the floor. More traditional than the Warhammer one, with assorted members of the development team up there. Likewise, full writeup coming shortly.

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5:30 - Get out of the panel to find out that the "Casual Games Killing Core?" panel is - you guessed it - in the very same room. The line here is even longer than the Warhammer one, and I resign myself to the fact that I have as much a chance of getting in the door on this one as I do beating Michael Phelps in the 100m butterfly.

With the show floor closed, time to get to writing. Whispers of a shindig held by EVE Online developers CCP. Consider my interest piqued.