PAX East 2016: Day One

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Dawn of the first day. Weather in Boston is extremely pleasant (for once). There’s a distinct lack of Super Mutants and airships, but I chalk this up to it being early in the weekend.


PAX East, Mecca of all things gaming for us east-coasters, takes place over the next three days. Pedialyte is my health potion this morning as we make our way towards the convention center. With me are Dave, Randall, Austin, and Andrew. Thanks to a bizarre new queueing system, we are no longer amongst the first on the con floor, noticeably miring the spirits of all.

Their enthusiasm is palpable.

Their enthusiasm is palpable.

Out on the con floor, plans disintegrate quickly (as expected). Randall and Austin are lost in the crowd within minutes. Realizing the fruitlessness of the situation, Andrew strikes out on his own. I stick with Dave to rendezvous Kay and Brett.

Our first destination is PlayStation VR, where I am tickled by the prospects of playing Job Simulator in a VR. The mind reels at the possibilities. Just imagine: Real responsibilities… in virtual reality. Alas, the booth was expected to get so popular that actual sign ups were required via their app. Thus, my Excel-jockeying was thwarted for another day.

On to the main attraction: the indie megabooth. I spend most of my time here each year because the lines are short and I can get a great feel for the games that are going to be blowing up in the next year. Dave, Kay, and Brett are also lost in the crowd (good riddance, I do say!)

The first game that catches my eye is Pollen, a game that’s been at the con for the past two years or so. What they have looks very polished. You are an engineer deployed to a remote research facility on Titan. As you can imagine, the isolation and danger of such a situation lends itself to some good tension, and I have no doubt that the story they’ve crafted will turn out well. The game already plays like a published title.

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Across from them, Avalon Lords is an RTS that plays like a cross between Age of Empires and Total War, though I think it needs more polishing before it’s set to go. Then I spotted the booth for Divinity: Original Sin II. Like the sellout I am, I shared their hashtag (#dos2) on social media for a free t-shirt. Andrew also tried the game and is anxiously awaiting it. Also, while in line I snagged a rad photo with Angry Joe. This day is already going great.

IMAG1038I meandered my way over to board games to pick up lunch but got distracted by this huge toy (the name escapes me) on display at Eureka games. The goal was to guide a marble on a three-dimensional track inside of a huge clear globe without it falling off. The prize was a $50 gift card to the game store, but I blew it and didn’t win.

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And who else should bump into me at this time but Matt and Cathy! We perused board games together. Cathy and Matt picked up a copy of Truths Too Terrible in board games, while we also checked out The Poo Game with con-pro Ian Marcellana and considered purchasing Suddenly Drunk. We’re such responsible adults.

Dinner Break: Overpriced chicken fingers. Back to indie games.

Thumper is a rythem game that looks super trippy and would also probably be awesome in VR. Jenny LeClue – Detectivu looks like a cute adventure game. Grog makes no sense whatsoever but would probably send you into a trance if you threw it in VR.

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Cathy had her eye on an indie game on the show floor: Dragon Fin Soup, a fairy-tale rogue-like with an alcoholic heroine. They said that if I got the high score in survival mode I’d get a copy of the game plus a poster. I manage to kill it and destroy the high score. Give the poster to Cathy, who was going to buy one anyway. Keep game for myself (hehehe…). So far I’ve snagged a free t-shirt, a poster, and a game. My day is going great.

Got in like for a panel about video games journalism. I think I went to this same panel last year actually, but this time it was more about what life is like once you are a journalist. The panelists were very professional, making sure to enunciated that it’s a tough indistry to be in. Pay is abominably low, be good at things besides writing (video/audio editing a plus, web design).

I end my day by sneaking in to the tail end of the Giant Bomb panel, where I desperately need to rendezvous with Randall, Andrew, and Austin because my phone is dead and I’ve lost contact with HQ (so to speak). I note the irony that after listening to a bunch of professional journalists talk soberly about the industry, I get to watch a bunch of gaming celebrities goof off in front of a crowd and drop five f-bombs a minute.

Lessons learned today: Bring a charger tomorrow.

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