[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 '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.”

The Last of Us Comic by Dark Horse

Dark Horse announced that they will be releasing the obligatory pre-release comic for the upcoming video game The Last of Us.
Naughty Dog, who brought us the Uncharted series, is known for not only innovative gameplay but also captivating storytelling.
The demo of the Last of Us that was shown at PAX this fall gave us a glimpse of what promises to be an expansive world in terms of scenery and characters. Even the NPCs clearly had motives aside from being violent obstacles.
Dark Horse is the perfect publisher for the comic book team-up with Naughty Dog as they’re the publisher known for stories. Their lineup is not the normal superhero fare, featuring the likes of Tom Morello’s post-apocalyptic Orchid, the Mass Effect comics, and Umbrella Academy.
There is no form to adhere to just a story to tell and a trained eye fro ensuring quality in the medium it’s told in.
I’m so excited for Ellie’s back story and this new, influential character.

Dark Horse announced that they will be releasing the obligatory pre-release comic for the upcoming video game The Last of Us.
Naughty Dog, who brought us the Uncharted series, is known for not only innovative gameplay but also  captivating storytelling.
The demo of the Last of Us that was shown at PAX this fall gave us a glimpse of what promises to be an expansive world in terms of scenery and characters. Even the NPCs clearly had motives aside from being violent obstacles.
Dark Horse is the perfect publisher for the comic book team-up with Naughty Dog as they’re the publisher known for stories. Their lineup is not the normal superhero fare, featuring the likes of Tom Morello‘s post-apocalyptic Orchid, the Mass Effect comics, and Umbrella Academy.
There is no form to adhere to just a story to tell and a trained eye fro ensuring quality in the medium it’s told in.
I’m so excited for Ellie’s back story and this new, influential character. Check out the press release for details:

The most anticipated video game of 2013, The Last of Us, comes to print with a comic series and an art book from Dark Horse Comics and Naughty Dog!
The Last of Us: American Dreams will be a four-issue series by TheLast of Us lead writer Neil Druckmann, with rising star Faith Erin Hicks (Zombies CallingFriends with BoysThe Adventures of Superhero Girl) as cowriter and artist.
Ellie, the heroine of The Last of Us, has grown up in a postpandemic world, shuttled between military orphanages in one of the last remaining quarantine zones and resigned to the fact that when she’s old enough, she’ll be channeled into the army or left to fend for herself—until she meets an older girl determined to find a third way out.American Dreams explores Ellie’s backstory and her first steps on the road that led her to her companion Joel.
The first issue of The Last of Us: American Dreams will appear in the spring of 2013.
The Art of The Last of Us, a deluxe hardcover exploring the characters, the infected humans, and the intricately realized world of the game, will launch in conjunction with the release of the game.

[More about The Last of Us]

PAX 2012 | 3 Reasons FIREFALL is best consumed outside of the game

At PAX Prime 2012 I was able to spend time and have a great conversation with David, a Lead Desiginer at Red 5 Studios. Please understand, nothing bad has ever come from the level of enthusiasm, sincerity and thoughtfulness David showed. Firefall is a game created by people who love games and quality and science fiction and stories and badassary.
I watched the trailer and was slack-jawed in awe of this amazing story and design. These characters were compelling and this story was engaging. I saw designs that surpassed my science fiction, dystopian dreams. I read comics with narrative and dialogue that had me smiling to myself in public because that shit was AMAZING!
Unfortunately, I can’t say all of those loved and amazing things make it into the Firefall game. Firefall the universe and idea are expansive, exciting and brilliant while Firefall the game promises something far different.

At PAX Prime 2012 I was able to spend time and have a great conversation with David, a Lead Desiginer at Red 5 Studios. Please understand, nothing bad has ever come from the level of enthusiasm, sincerity and thoughtfulness David showed. Firefall is a game created by people who love games and quality and science fiction and stories and badassary.
I watched the trailer and was slack-jawed in awe of this amazing story and design. These characters were compelling and this story was engaging. I saw designs that surpassed my science fiction, dystopian dreams. I read comics with narrative and dialogue that had me smiling to myself in public because that shit was AMAZING!
Unfortunately, I can’t say all of those loved and amazing things make it into the Firefall game. Firefall the universe and idea are expansive, exciting and brilliant while Firefall the game promises something far different.

1. Firefall tells us stories in previews and theatrical trailers but we don’t get to experience those stories in the game.

This is not at all to say Firefall does not have a story. This is kind of hard to explain. Firefall as a universe has a great story, an exiting story. But, Firefall as a game… not so much. You don’t play as the people from the ship or even acknowledge them. Eh, you probably curse their names while you spend your days harvesting Crystite to push back The Medling (the poison cloud engulfing the Earth since they crashed their ship).
All this build up is like using The Old Testament to set up The Sims. So there was God and a great flood and serpents and… now we walk around and eat sandwiches.
Please read this set up story for Firefall, maybe if enough people are interested they’ll not only make a manga but also a novels or cartoons or a movie or a campaign mode…

The Arclight was going to be the greatest single leap in the history of technology – a starship that could fold space and turn the eight-year voyage to Alpha Prime colony into a stroll around the block.
Instead, in a vast and tragic dazzle of light, the Arclight broke in half and fell to Earth near Fortaleza, Brazil.
How the anti-technology commentators gloried in that fall! On and on they spoke of Prometheus, of Lucifer, of the Tower of Babel, of the hubris at the heart of Greek tragedy.
The most famous words came from a Brazilian newsman at the scene: “Construímos uma lâmpada de esperança, mas ela é morta, a luz apagada, a esperança quebrada.” (“We created a lamp of hope, but it has died; the light is out, the hope is broken.”)
But we are the people who had already endured the devastation of the Crystite meteor swarm. Three-fourths of humanity was destroyed – but we took the Crystite and turned it into a nearly miraculous source of energy. It was Crystite that took us to the stars in the first place – Crystite, which came from the stars and nearly destroyed us.
The Arclight broke, the Arclight fell, but we are not broken, we will not fall or fail. We will learn why spacetime, instead of folding, tore open; we will revise our plans and build again, and better next time; and we will stay alive long enough to do all this.
The real danger is not the strange and terrible thing that came through that rip in spacetime. The danger is that we might despair and cease to strive. For in that day we would cease to be human, and turn into another batch of dinosaurs, who failed to adapt and so became extinct.
Source

2. Our main characters have disappeared and been replaced with simple class characters with no history or motivation.

As mentioned above, Pilgrim Entwhistle, the star of the manga, Captain Whoever who was piloting the Arclight and chose to crash the ship on Fortaleza even though it’s where his family lives (these are the details you get when people are truly geeked about their game), or this badass chick from the trailer.
You have the ability to build and customize your character but they’re still more tools for you you use than characters for you to play.
There’s a heavy emphasis around eSports but no indication as to who or why you’re fighting. If you’re all trying to rebuild earth and no conflict has been laid out except for the allusion to something that followed the Arclight to Earth. So, what the fuck?
Firefall is not an RPG so this aspect is completely reasonable, your character shouldn’t be a fully fleshed out character. But with writing and world-building like this, I really wish it was and RPG.

3. You farm forever and fight other players in an eSports way but it’s not clear why, given the setting and back story.

Your long-term and short-term goal in this game is to harvest Crystite and build up the Arclight/FTL so you can push back The Melding until Earth is free of it.
SPOILER: This will take forever and there’s pretty much no intention of it being accomplishable… You’re a Forever Farmer and Earth is one giant community garden.
I don’t like longterm goals much less fake one that will only pay off when my grandchildren are on their death beads. Maybe, in real life I’m okay with that as a reason to recycle but in a game? No. I want to know I killed a faction of enemies or held the base until Noble Six could escape.
So you can wander about killing giant spiders on the beach or fighting your friends to the death for sport or harvesting because that’s what you do.

*. I Strongly Recommend Watching Firefall for out-of-game content

The have a manga that is BEAUTIFFULLY illustrated (I want it framed in poster size on my walls) and written by Orson Scott Card and Emily Janice Card.
The Cinematic trailer shows an ability to tell a silent story the way they should be told. It and Blizzard’s Mists of Pandaria trailer were the only two cinematic trailers that truly left an impression with me from PAX.
I’m excited for Firefall because I think people into this style of game will be pleased with what the game has to offer. The Firefall team was passionate proud to show where the game had evolved based on player input and what might just be disruptive innovations in the eSports arena.
I’ve tried the beta and have a few keys to give away if some of our readers are interested in the Firefall closed beta.

Leave a comment with your thoughts about Firefall (more than a single word or two, please) to be eligible for a beta key gift.