[PAX East 2017] Survival Tip: Leave and Talk to Strangers

Main Event implies you can leave and find other events… maybe better events.

PAX East is sometimes described as a giant party. I’d think of it like a party in the way that Prom is a party. Sure, it’s “a party” but the real fun is around Prom. Pregaming, after parties, anti-prom parties. Sometime the most fun you can have at an event is by leaving the event.
Every year since we met Kae and I meet up at PAX East with water bottles filled with wine or rum and Coke. Werevel in the awesomeness that is nerding out among your peers over shared interests. Every year except this year.
Foolishly, we though we’d have a joyous time with just the environment and good company alone. PAX, over time, has become less and less the place you go for the environment and company alone. Especially now that they no longer serve alcohol at the bar. Yes, the Sam Adams bar in the convention center was not serving alcohol…
Large companies and innovative vendors have been fewer and further between as the years  passed. Drinking became even more vital to the social aspect of PAX East. Apparently last year an underage youth was served at the bar and now no one can have drinks…

Not super clear on the logic behind punishing adults because children can’t be trusted we decided to leave.

Hungry, bored, and searching for libations lead us to the Marriott hotel next door to the convention center. Specifically, we found the Asylum Gaming Esports at Laugh Boston party situation. We walked in hoping for some overpriced drinks and undersized bar food only to be greeted with an adult nerd’s paradise. It was the PAX we’d always wanted.
Lining the walls were consoles of vintage games like Duck Hunt and Metroid. In the space behind the bar there were two beer pong tables set up. The menu was even gamer themed with drinks like the “Power Up.”  I had the pleasure of seeing a guy order one of these specialty drinks then watch the bartender respond by looking at this temporary menu and saying, “Sure, let me just figure out what that is.”
Kae and I  sat at the bar drinking cheap (but not inexpensive) beer from plastic cups and some basic but delicious buffalo chick tenders and fries.

If you’re going to go to a bar, you might as well talk to strangers while you’re there.

After returning a few stray ping pong balls and meeting the Beer Pong players we were heckled into joining in. I’ve never pretended to be good at any game physical or digital but for some strange reason I was killing it at Beer Pong. Our opponents, Nate (who really didn’t like when I trolled him and called him Nick) and Dude with the beard and yellow hat (who we later found out had a name and it was Colin) were fellow PAX attendees who also wandered away from the main attraction.
This was the scene we’d been craving. We were trash talking IRL and meeting strangers with common interests. There were assists, sweet plays, drinking rules, rules we didn’t understand (Thanks for playing the role of Options and Settings, Ray aka TheHandsomeGinger). It was XBox Live… LIVE
We learned through experience that you might have the  best time by leaving the party and going to a different one.

[PAX East 2017] Survival Tip: Do That Thing You Hate – featuring Colina: Leagacy

Hate is a strong word. It’s also accurate enough when describing standing in line sober for something you’re not even sure you’re interested in. I’m cringing just thinking about it.
On the other hand, had Kae and I not thrown our hands up in the air and stood in the first line we saw we would never have tried the first person horror game Colina: Legacy.  First, I’ve never heard of this game or this developer but they went big. They had a replica of the scary house from the game inside and out!
Kae and I reluctantly get in this line and, surprise, it moves fairly quickly. We get to the front of the line and a guy explains to up that we can’t demo the game but we can check out their sweet set up…  Ummm, okay.
We’re both feeling that our suspicions about lines sucking and what not are in the process of being confirmed (the theory can’t be confirmed until the process is complete and we walk away on to another task). Inside, we have to admit, that setup was amazing.  It looked just like the game! The cups on the counter, the kitchen table, the fridge!
About the fridge… One of the developers on site offered us some water. So sweet! But then he says, “It’s in the fridge; help yourself.” …Fear and anticipation. I’m IN a jump scare game right now and being asked to open a door?! Oh dead god. Hand on handle I brace myself and look for Kae to reassure me (she’s sitting at the counter with a headset on- I’ll remember that when SHTF). The Corlina (Chance 6) developer is looking on with an evil-tinged glee. He’s being helpful and generous (water at the convention was $3.50 a bottle)… or was he!? I pull the handle and nothing happens. It’s just a well lit cool fridge filled with bottled water.
“Thank  you,” I say sheepishly then scuttle off to Kae’s side (Weird how she can find me by her side when she’s about to get terrorized).

Wait! I said the guy told us that we couldn’t play the game, we could only look around. That’s the kicker, literally as soon as we walk through the door the next developer greets us and asks if we want to try Colina: Legacy. Uh, yeah?
He explains that they have a fully booked schedule but if people leave early or show up late that leaves demo stations open for us walk-ins. So we waited in line only to jump the queue and get  to try the game.

Was waiting in line for Colina: Legacy it worth this dreaded waiting in line nonsense?

Yes, because:

  • Colina Legacy is a third person horror-puzzle game set at your grandma’s house. Your gran has the scariest house I’ve ever seen complete with writing on the walls in blood AND weird mystical secret messages.
  • We got to play around one level and within minutes I was deeply engrossed in the story and the unique-but-familiar gameplay.
  • The developers! They’re stoked on the  game and they put some serious thought and effort into this introduction. Also, good people make you feel good about investing in their work.

I’m watching and waiting in anticipation. Though I plan to wait for delivery rather than go to a store to find another line…

PAX East 2014 | Organic Panic


1978876_224701924385529_1851087260_nOrganic Panic
is a  puzzle-platformer about a Protein vs Produce apocalypse. Technically the protein (Meats and Cheeses) have already won and the Produce are living in fear while they’re hunted for sport.

LastLimb, created by brother David and Anatole Branch, funded Organic Panic through a kickstarter campaign and got greenlit on Steam Greenlight. Obviously this game makes a good impression.

But what was it like to play Organic Panic in real life?

Kae and I played Organic Panic at PAX East and got a copy of the comic which details the story. We used XBox 360 controllers on a PC build.983632_226653834190338_414048056255896916_n

  • Single player was fun and reminiscent of old-school platformers like Sonic The Hedgehog or Donkey Kong with a bit of a Super Meatboy twist.
  • Each character has special abilities (fueled by collecting magic stars) like the ability to shoot whatever material they’re in contact with, throw water, set things on fire, and telekinesis.1010122_224401007748954_746872795_n
  • Each ability comes out in the comic (Produce is magical and Protein is technological, duh), which explains how the Protein took over, what the Produce plans t do about it, and why there are all these portals around.
  • The levels weren’t exactly continuous stories (at least not what we played) as much as they were action based puzzles — which is totally normal for levels on platformers. Each level started with a different character so you couldn’t really choose your favorite and stick with it. The cherry with it’s shooting ability was really fun. But if you can only be one character per level, it means the characters aren’t all equal on all the levels. However, it makes sense if you read the comic and know that the old Apple is sending the fruits on missions through portals to support his master plan.1975125_224032251119163_885536456_n
  • In multiplayer, we were each given a character that had to work with the the other to solve our way to the door (end of the level).
  • Multiplayer levels were more like single-screen puzzles with each fruit on one side and the objective door some where visible but out of reach.10014643_225249220997466_1604416436_n
  • Playing with a friend in this way was fun and frustrating. If one player dies, you reset. And boy did we die a lot. You have to talk it out and point and shout and try and fail and finally, victory fist pump when you win.

Organic Panic was a fresh take on cute and campy platformers and post-apocalyptic resistance. It felt both familiar and unique with a solid psychics build and “fleshed out” characters. The game was easy enough to pick up and play though there were some place where you could run out of mana and then you were just stuck and had to restart the level. They’re short levels so it wasn’t a big deal.
Keep an eye out on Steam, because it’s coming soon.

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PAX East 2014 | Borderlands the Pre-Sequel

Borderlands the Pre-Sequel is set between Borderlands and Borderlands 2 (see how it’s both a prequel and sequel?) and takes place on the moon of Pandora. (Because 2K Australia was behind getting this game out, everyone on the moon is Australian.)
I died a little when I heard there would be another Borderlands game AND it would be staring Claptrap! Well, Claptrap will be one a four playable characters.
This game will follow the rise of Handsome Jack, who is your boss/leader.
Most of the gameplay seems the same as it was in Borderlands 2– which is a pro in my book. There are a few new features like cryo-bullets that freeze enemies so they can be smashed.
This time, because you’re on the moon, there is a new piece of gear you get: your O2 thing. They called it “Oz” in the demo. Oz lets you double jump, hover, and super stomp (especially cryo-frozen bandits). You’ll also have the pleasure of blowing bandits off the moon when you grenade them!
Check out the Borderlands the Pre-Sequel developer overview below and the write up on the 2K Games blog.
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[PAX East] Deus Ex: Human Revolution DIRECTOR’S CUT! (WiiU)

Deus Ex is back again, but mostly the same. However this director’s cut has some noticeable differences… Not because it’s the director’s cut and it comes with two additional missions though, that I wouldn’t say was all that noticeable. Square Enix is re-releasing Deus Ex on the WiiU and I have to say the experience was markedly different.
I’m not yet adjusted to the WiiU controller so I won’t blame that initial awkwardness on the re-release or the device itself. I will say, the game looks just as good on the WiiU as it did on a PS3 or an XBox 360. I didn’t feel like corners were being cut or anything was lagging behind what I’m accustomed to.
WiiU players will get a very similar experience to that of their PS3 and XBox friends. However, they’ll need to acclimate themselves to interacting with multiple interfaces throughout gameplay.
The game happens on the big screen and maps, menus, and other bits and bobs are relegated to the touchscreen on the controller. I hope there’s an option to turn this off because in a game like Deus Ex you’re in your menus quite a bit. Having to look down, and take my hands out of position every time I needed to switch weapons (which I did often because shooting first and asking questions later means you go through a lot of ammo) was definitely not an improvement.
In the new and improved version players will get the aforementioned DLC integrated into the game, an even prettier game, and better balance for combat (there were some ridiculous fights in Deus Ex).
If you want a WiiU and serious gamer games that help you flex your stealth sneaking, dystopian decision making, and cyborg combating, you should check it out.
BUT! I’ totally suggest finding a way to try the controller (or the game on the controller if you can) before you commit to the WiiU system… It’s not like going from an Xbox to a PS3 or even from a console to a DS.
Though as Frederick Douglas said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”

[PAX East] Heroes Needed for Post-Apocalypse Rebuild: Neverwinter

I am not a PC gamer; however, I loved playing Perfect World’s Neverwinter. I’m such a brat when it comes to all the menus and keyboard shortcuts. League of Legends was too confusing for me and that game is fairly straightforward (once I couldn’t figure out why none of my powers were working… I accidentally opened a chat and was spamming it with QWER).
Neverwinter though, I just got it. You mover with WASD and melee with the right and left mouse buttons. You have ultras and stuff but I didn’t realize that until I got to a boss and the nice lady at the booth suggested I might want to use 1 and 2 on him. Huh, 1 and 2 did stuff all that time.
So, obviously I wouldn’t just tell you about a random PC game with no apocalyptic implications! Neverwinter is a game about a land that already survived the apocalypse and now they need to rebuild. But, with all the left overs from the apocalypse (like the undead), it’s a hard road and they need Heroes and the like to pave the way for weak respectable citizens.

Neverwinter will be free-to-play with options for purchasable version upgraded like the current founder’s pack that comes with a mount, a companion, VIP Beta access, and more (for $199.99).
Check out the backstory blurb:

One hundred years have passed since the Spellplague forever changed the magical and mysterious lands of Faerûn. Mighty empires fell and great cities toppled, leaving only monster-haunted ruins and survivors struggling to rebuild.
The city of Neverwinter, the Jewel of the North, seemed blessed by the gods. While the rest of the Sword Coast was devastated by the event, Neverwinter survived largely intact. But this was only a temporary reprieve from its inevitable doom. Nearly 75 years later, a volcanic eruption rained fire, ash and molten fury upon the city, annihilating everything in its wake.
Today, Neverwinter has restored much of its former glory. Lord Neverember of Waterdeep has taken the city under his protection and put forth a call to all adventurers and heroes of the Savage North to help rebuild Neverwinter in the hopes that one day he can lay claim to her throne and crown. But evil forces conspire in the dark places of the world, seeking to undermine all…

[PAX East '13] The Last of Us Features Happy Bricks and Echolocation.

I played The Last of Us demo at PAX East and felt all the feelings. Happy for a sweet band of misfits sticking together to make their way in this harsh new world. Confused by the MC Escher reminiscent environment that I couldn’t navigate because I could get lost in a cul-de-sac. Scared—no terrified—by the Clickers, cauliflower-faced creatures who use echolocation to ferret out their prey. Proud when I figured out how to distract them and escape. Finally, fun-stressed while I tried to fight off diseased humans from all angles.
It was vital to utilize stealth, cunning, speed, and puzzle-thinking to get through this scene so I can’t imagine what the game will hold. I’ve always thought of Naughty Dog as the story people with a good game keeping you in the seat but I think The Last of Us might have the story and game neck and neck for awesomest.
Now I’m a little worried I’ll miss some of the story because I’ll be so  engrossed in the game! Gah. My life is hard.
Check out the Last of Us Past East 2013 demo video:
Lucky me, I came away from the very stressful demo with a stress brick by the name of Happy Brock.

Happy Brock the stress brick!

Check out the official Naughty Dog write up on their blog.
[More about The Last of Us]

Tower Offense? Yes, Please; I'll Take ANOMALY 2.

ANOMALY 2 from 11 bit studios is going to be available for demo at PAX East this weekend and I’m stoked!
Why?
Obviously, I’m for anything thing that leads with “build war mechs,” but this glee is mainly because I’m a huge geek for tower defense games. Ninja Town is for real my favorite game. I lent it to my mom and then strongly considered buying a new copy because I missed it.
But ANOMALY 2 isn’t a tower defense game. It’s a tower offense game! You build troops to push through the enemy’s defenses and ultimately breach their base.
As the story goes, aliens came to Earth in the first ANOMALY Warzone Earth  game and they won. They beat everyone handily and now the planet is theirs and the responsibility to take it back is yours.
I plan to make a meal of this at PAX East and let you know how it preforms against expectations.
Check out the trailer and the official summary from 11 bit studios:
Continue reading “Tower Offense? Yes, Please; I'll Take ANOMALY 2.”

There are Dancing Zombies at PAX East…

Ever seen dancing zombies? I have.
Here at In Case of Survival we’ve been basking in the wonderful panic and speculation that surround the Mayan-predicted End of Days. Video games starring zombies and set in the post-apocalypse have been a near constant tread and we’re loving it.
Well it’s that time again. The biggest video game expo on this side the country, PAX East, is back in Boston and it’s better than ever. Why? Because this year is PAX East 2012 and it’s the end of the world!
Psyched up to see people and play games, I hurried to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC) after work. On my way to meet up with my friends I walked across the catwalk on the second level of the convention center I saw zombies. Dancing zombies.
Promoting all their wonder full games, from Solitaire Blitz to Plants vs Zombies, PopCap Studios set right up front with a display of zombies dressed like they fell out of Plants vs. Zombies and danced like a crew from ABDC[1. America’s next Best Dance Crew.].
It was amazing, experience it:

Dancing Zombies - Arrrg!
Dancing Zombies – Arrrg!
Dancing Zombies - Team Photo
Dancing Zombies – Team Photo
Dancing Zombies - OMG So Adorbz!
Dancing Zombies – OMG So Adorbz!