Wednesday, September 1, 2010

PAX 2010: Pregame

At the end of every summer, the gloriously geeky gaming masses descend on Seattle to partake in the Penny Arcade Expo. It's arguably the biggest, bestest most beautiful celebration of videogame fandom in the world. And this year, Gamer Melodico will be there!

Dan, Kirk and Annie are teaming up to spend the entire upcoming weekend running around from booths to panels to parties, beholding massive musical extravaganzas, taking pictures of crazy cosplay, meeting up with friends old and new, and playing a crap-ton of upcoming games. Also, probably waiting in a lot of lines and drinking too much.

In addition to all that, we'll all be writing a bunch of stuff here, posting regular updates from what we've seen and done. (Update: despite the craziness yesterday with Paste Magazine discontinuing their print edition, Kirk will also, awesomely enough, be covering the event for the Paste website.)

PAX should also prove to be a bit of a Twitter bonanza, so while the Gamer Melodico Twitter Feed will be updated with new posts, for more running commentary you'll want to follow Kirk at @kirkhamilton, Dan at @DanApczynski and Annie at @Chernobylheart.

In the meantime, we thought we'd talk a bit about what we're each looking forward to most. And by all means, if there's anything in particular among the announced attractions that you'd like us to check out and write about, let us know!

Overbites, flask-smuggling, couch-surfing, cosplaying, furries and more, after the break...

Above: Gretsch
Kirk: Well first of all, I'll say that I'm looking forward to meeting Annie's dog Gretsch, with whom I'll be sharing couch sleeping-space. So that should be fun. I think I might cosplay as her, though I'm not sure anyone would get it. They'd probably think I was going as Shiranui or something.

Dan: Hee. Well although I've attended every music industry show there has ever been, this is my first games expo ever—I'm really looking forward to just taking it all in. In particular, I'm itching to see the companies who've meant the most to me over the years: Bioware, Bethesda, Square/Enix... If you're cosplaying as Gretsch, Kirk, I'm going to cosplay as you. It's going to be epic.

Annie: If you guys are going to cosplay, I am not going to be seen in public with you.

Kirk: Annie, I was kind of assuming that you'd have cooler people to hang out with than me and Dan anyway.

Dan: Kirk, if I end up cosplaying as you, I'm going to need some lifts. Can't wait to see what life is like from up above the treeline.

Shut up poster, Furries are kinda cool
Kirk: It's everything you've dreamed of and more. You'll be eye-to-eye with all of the furries.

Annie: I think you guys are confusing PAX with Sakuracon, for which I was mercifully out of town.

Kirk: Thought you totally would've gone, had you been around.

Annie: ANYWAY. Somewhat oddly, I find myself kind of excited about Dance Central, a new offering on Kinect. From what I hear, this could be the game that elevates Kinect from its current "21st century Powerglove" status. Of course, this does involve making an idiot of myself in public as I attempt to dance, so I will probably try to make Kirk, Dan, and the rest of our mighty entourage go first.

Kirk: I'm excited as hell about Dance Central, too. Which is unexpected... I'd talk some sort of big game about volunteering to use it, but I know that when we're there, and the big-ass Kinect dance-floor is beckoning, I'll chicken out. Unless there's a bar somewhere nearby...

Annie: Of COURSE there is a bar nearby. It's called "The Flask" and it is located in the laptop bags of Microsoft employees.

Kirk: Da-dum-tish!

Annie: No offense, Microsoft. We all know the Open Source community runs on Java and booze, and I'm almost positive that Apple employees are drunk 90% of the time. I'm only picking on you because of the inevitable and impending "Drunk Dance Central Singalong" YouTube barrage.

Kirk: You shoulda seen my rendition of the single-ladies dance at this wedding last weekend! Hey, speaking of weddings, I know for a fact that Dan has some moves...

Exhibit A: Squint/Overbite Combo
Dan: I present to the court, Exhibit A:

Kirk: I can only imagine how special the camera that took that picture must've been feeling.

Annie: If the Dance Central dev team was really on it, there would be a "Half-Lebanese Man's Overbite" unlockable easter egg. That would be amazing. Or at least some Funky Chicken action.

So, on a more melancholy note, I would say that I'm excited about anything Diablo III-related, but there appears to be a lack of Blizzard/Activision listed in the Expo Hall directory. There does not seem to be any sort of public comment on this, but it seems odd that they would not be there. I am confident that there will be sufficient protest from the Alliance and Horde alike, so perhaps I will not have to be "That Person": So annoyed that every word comes out sounding like Comic Book Guy.

Kirk: I can imagine that, given the nature of Blizzard's games, any open-air demo of their games would attract a lot of sit-and-stayers. But yeah, I don't see them on the expo map—I guess maybe they get it all out of their system at Blizzcon?

Annie: Also, though Funcom does not have a booth, I am hoping that Microsoft will have some space devoted to The Secret World. I'm really intrigued by secret societies and the idea of mythologies invading every day life. Also, the game is rumored to be grind-free, though I'm not sure how that works, or if it would necessarily be a good thing, because honestly, sometimes a little level grinding is just what a person needs after a bad day at work.

Above: Possibly Rabid
Dan: Having not done this before, I'm actually more intrigued by some of the panels than I am with the booths—have I been terribly misled? I hear there's a Games Writing and Rabid Badger Combat seminar on Saturday. It's probably just what one needs to survive the coming badger apocalypse.

Kirk: Some of the panels do sound pretty cool, though I bet we can pick and choose a bit rather than get bogged down trying to attend them all. There will be lines, oh yes. There will be lines. I really want to see the live-drafting of a PA strip, if only to see Mike do his art thing. I also, of course, want to catch the Idle Thumbs guys' panel, and a few other specific podcasty performish things. But man, I'm mostly just stoked to wander the floor and see what's what.

I think it's safe to say that most every upcoming release will be there in some form or another - what games are you guys most looking forward to checking out? Annie, I think we know by now how pumped you are about Portal 2, but are there any others? Dan, will I be able to tear you away from the Fallout: New Vegas demo?

Dan: Yeah, I plan to finish the game on Survival mode. It can't take that long, right?

Kirk: Yeah, I would love to plop down in front of it and dial in the unforgivingness. Then we can spend the next 50 hours of the expo gradually dying of dehydration. Both in the game and in reality.

Literally any excuse to include
this picture in a post
Annie: I'm sort of assuming that I'll spend at least four hours standing in line to glimpse anything even vaguely Portal 2-related. Also, word of advance warning to any line-cutting mouth breathers at the Valve booth: I've spent the whole year working on being assertive, and if you cut in line again this year, I will firmly but politely interject. And if you are not at a politeness level equal to or greater than my own, I will cut your Subway-filled bellies wide open.

Kirk: Mmm, Subway. Wait, what were we talking about?

Dan: Blargh. I never thought the smell of baking bread could trigger a gag reflex, but after five years in an office within walking distance of a Subway, I've learned the error of my ways. Annie, I'm spoiled on an SF-foodie lifestyle and I can't—I won't go back. Do we have any other options nearby?

Annie: Don't worry, you're preaching to the choir, Dan. Let Kirk have his Subway, we can hit the crepe stand outside of the convention center.

Kirk: Mmm, crepes.
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