Thursday, September 18, 2014

Q Attack, Round 2 - Should Gamers Attend PAX Prime?
Tiger vs Rabbit is back with an all new entry. Our resident mammals have just returned from their trip to PAX Prime 2014. In this entry, Tiger and Rabbit will be discussing the sights, sounds, and games of PAX before answering the question – Should gamers attend PAX Prime?


Rabbit: Hello everybunny! How are you doing? This is Rabbit and I am super hyped! Tiger and I just got back from PAX Prime 2014 in Seattle. We got the chance to play a few upcoming games, see demos, go to concerts, and immerse ourselves in all things gamer-geek-chic! I have to admit, I absolutely loved our time at PAX! What about you, Tiger?

Tiger: *groans* How can you be so energetic, Rabbit? I’m so wiped from this trip. Yeah, it was a lot of fun but man, I am tired. And every time I stop moving, I feel like I’m on an escalator. This trip really took it out of me.

Rabbit: ^pokes Tiger^ See’mon Tiger! You need to be excited; we got a rare opportunity to check out the latest in gaming!

Tiger: Oh, I’ll be excited once I catch up on all the sleep I lost. Also, Rabbit... it’s “C’mon.”

Rabbit: That’s what I said.

Tiger: Right. I’m just going to type it up exactly how you say it.

Rabbit: That is how you say it. Anyway, back to PAX! Why don’t we start off with what we did over the three days we were there? Then we can discuss the games we got to play a little bit before we finally answer the big Q of the day. Kick it off, Tiger!

Tiger: Alright, here’s a shotgun blast of info. PAX Prime officially opened on Friday, August 29th but Rabbit and I actually arrived in Seattle, WA on Thursday. Kind of nice getting there early, we got checked into the hotel and met a few people like-

Rabbit: Greg Miller of IGN fame!

Tiger: Yes, him too but I was thinking more like the guys from Radio PlayStation.

Rabbit: And a few of the PlayStation MVPs.

Tiger: They were all super cool. We woke up bright and early on Friday and headed straight to the Washington State Convention Center. Now, for those of you who don’t know, PAX Prime is actually spread out amongst the WSCC, two theaters, and three hotels. There is so much going on, it’s insane. We were able to get into the main expo hall an hour before the doors actually opened which was amazing.

Rabbit: It was super awesome. We got to play so many games that way. We also met the cool dudes over at Vivid Gamer, please check them out!

Tiger: I really don’t think we would have played anything if we hadn’t had the opportunity to head in early. So what was the first game we ran over to play?

Rabbit: The Order: 1886! That game has a definite atmosphere about it.

Tiger: *laughs* I would have described it differently but we’ll hold off on that for later.

Rabbit: Do you ever like anything? ^shakes head^ What about Bloodborne?

Tiger: We headed over to play Bloodborne after finishing The Order, and yes, I did enjoy that one.

Rabbit: It was super hard; I died so fast in that game. It made me feel like a total n00b.

Tiger: I heard that the developers actually made the PAX demo a lot easier too.

Rabbit: ^gasps^ I don’t think I’m going to get that one. Up next was DriveClub and it wasn’t that fun.

Tiger: Driving games do have a bit of a learning curve so it's hard to say if it was good or not. One thing I disliked most about the demo was the “collision penalty” you get when you hit the side of the track or another car.

Rabbit: I felt like I was being punished because I suck at driving games. After that, I went over to the “Devotion” station which had a bunch of different indie games playing. Yay for indie games! I checked out Nidhogg, a crazy sidescrolling fencing game. It was pretty fun but I wish it had a colorblind mode since I had a hard time telling which side of the screen I was on.

Tiger: And while you were playing that, I was at the Oculus Rift demo station and had a chance to strap that baby on. I played a game that had you walking down a hallway while trying to dodge bullets. The tech was awesome, the game was so-so. I couldn’t tell when the bullets were about to hit me because they were red and the background was all white.

Rabbit: Boo for games not made with colorblind people in mind!

Tiger: After that, the expo hall was opened to everyone so it became a massive pit of humanity.

Rabbit: So many people! You could hardly move anywhere. What did we do the rest of Friday?

Tiger: There was the “Games User Research: Studying Games for Science!” panel with researchers from Bungie, Microsoft, NBC Universal, and Electronic Arts.

Rabbit: Oh yeah! We actually went to a lot of Microsoft panels at this PAX.

Tiger: Which is pretty ironic considering we have never owned a Microsoft console.

Rabbit: PlayStation pride! But I don’t think we’re fangirls at all.

Tiger: It really just comes down to money, there’s no way we could afford them all. So that was it for Friday. Lots of demos, lots of walking about the expo hall, and lots of information on GUR. Then that night was the first round of concerts. The evening opened with Triforce Quartet-

Rabbit: And a marriage proposal!

Tiger: Up next were The Doubleclicks and finally Paul and Storm. Definitely check out their music, really enjoyed the concert, so much energy. A special shout out to Bit Brigade! While we missed them at the Sunday concert, we picked up a few of their CDs and they are great! Check out some of their videos, you've never seen anything quite like them.

Rabbit: Saturday we got a great behind the scenes look at Tearaway from Media Molecule at the “How Media Molecule Made the Fourth-Wall-Breaking Papery World of Tearaway” panel. James Spafford, Community Manager at Media Molecule, did a great job leading that panel.

Tiger: You know I was really shocked by how different that game was in the early stages.

Rabbit: Yes, it was originally designed with the idea of using your finger as the main character. Then it morphed into a strange travelling GPS game, where you actually needed to travel in the real world to unlock new in-game worlds. It was really neat to see how that game evolved. Speaking of evolution, we also saw a panel on Fantasia: Music Evolved called “Music Evolved – From 8 Bit Soundtrack to Gameplay”.

Tiger: Another game we will never play.

Rabbit: It is an Xbox One exclusive so it will be difficult to play that one.

Tiger: Why did we go to that panel again?

Rabbit: Emily Reese! Inon Zur!

Tiger: Oh right, right. Yes, Emily Reese of Top Score Podcast has to be one of the best interviewers ever. She does an amazing job and if you’ve never heard Inon Zur before, he is such a character. I love his scores from Dragon Age and Fallout. He especially did a great job on The Lord of the Rings: War in the North soundtrack too. Also with them was legendary recording producer and engineer, Eddie Kramer. Gwen Riley and Christopher Nicholls from Disney Interactive rounded out the rest of the panel.

Rabbit: After that we went back to the expo hall and watched live tournaments of The Elder Scrolls Online, Evolve, Dreadnought, and Battlecry. I really couldn’t tell what was going on in those games.

Tiger: It was hard to follow along with some of them but Evolve looks really interesting. I like the concept of one person playing the monster and the rest having to team up to take them down.

Rabbit: It’s definitely a cool mash up; too bad the game got delayed. Next up was the “Maestros of Video Games” panel with Emily Reese as the moderator again. Jesper Kyd (Borderlands), Boris Salchow (Resistance), Martin O’Donnell (Destiny), Darren Korb (Transistor), Sascha Dikiciyan (Mass Effect 3), and Olsksa Lozowchuk (Dead Rising 3) were there talking about their music, what inspires them, and some cool insights into how video game music gets composed.

Tiger: The last panel of the night was a Whose Line is it Anyway style “The Improv Initiative: The Re-Improvining” panel with people from Loading Ready Run and Synaptic Chaos Theatre. They were really great and I had a blast at that panel. Next up on Sunday, what did we do on Sunday? By this time I felt like I was hung over even though I didn’t drink at all at PAX.

Rabbit: Well we started with room service because our feet hurt too much to walk down to the restaurant. Then we went to the expo hall one last time and replayed The Order: 1886-

Tiger: Which was a little better the second time around.

Rabbit: We also played Galak-Z and checked out a bunch of games in the Indie Megabooth, most of which were a blur.

Tiger: I did see a game called Wander that had this crazy tree-person who could morph into a griffin. I'm not sure of the game's purpose but it looked like you wandered around this jungle-esque world. It's an MMO and I don't think it had any combat. All I know is that it's listed for PS4.

Rabbit: ^gasps^

Tiger: What?

Rabbit: You actually admitted to liking an indie game and a non-violent one to boot.

Tiger: Okay first off, I said it looked interesting. Secondly, I didn’t get a chance to play it and I didn’t say I would ever play it.

Rabbit: I think I’m converting you-

Tiger: Dream on! Next, we went to see a panel by Bungie called “So Our Game is Called Destiny. Now What?”

Rabbit: Which was so electric that they blew a fuse and we lost power for a few minutes. After that we saw a great panel from Nippon Ichi Software America called “Bridge to Japan: The Process of Localizing Japanese Media.” They had a great group from NISA that included the localization director, the translator for Danganronpa 2, the editor for the Disgaea series, and the marketing coordinator. They discussed their localization process, how they pick their titles, and what it really takes to bring these Japanese games to the West.

Tiger: After the Tearaway panel, that was my next favorite panel. I loved some of the stories they told about the localization process. Like how one of the logos had a rainbow going left-to-right and the Japanese company told them that was completely wrong. The rainbow could only go right-to-left so they spent all this extra time changing that logo.

Rabbit: We also got a great story about the character of Ben from the first season of The Walking Dead by Telltale games. That was at the “Episodic Games: Divine Dream or Neverending Nightmare?” panel with Swery, Kevin Bruner and Kendall Davis from TellTale Games, Ryan Payton, and Matt Gilgenbach. Those funny backstories were probably my favorite thing about PAX. I like getting to hear all those stories and it's not something that happens every day in video game media. We ended the night with the “Late Night Dub Fight” panel which consisted of the same group from the Improv panel.

Tiger: So that’s our summary of PAX Prime 2014. There were so many things going on at PAX. You had Pinny Arcade, the real life PAX Pokemon League, Assassin’s Creed: Grand Hunt-

Rabbit: Don’t forget the Cookie Brigade, Buttoneering, all the board games being played everywhere, and tournaments!

Tiger: So much PAX, so little time.
Rabbit: Real quick, what were some first impressions of the games you played? For me, I really enjoyed the atmosphere of The Order: 1886 and I’m super excited to see how the story unfolds.

Tiger: *raises eyebrow* It’s an on-rails shooter.

Rabbit: It wasn’t that bad.

Tiger: The first time I played it, it was. Man, there was so much lag that it felt like I was playing a Resident Evil game.

Rabbit: Actually, it felt a lot like a Resident Evil game.

Tiger: It looks gorgeous and I’m definitely interested in the setting, but as for the gameplay, man. It’s just a little bit more entailed than an on-rails shooter but it sure is a very, very, very linear game. It has some issues, that demo really just turned me off from the game. You know what other demo turned me off? DriveClub, I was not impressed. Actually, it wasn’t fun at all, unlike The Crew which is fun to play, I felt like it was a really dry experience.

Rabbit: Ouch, harsh words but I have to agree with you on DriveClub. As for Bloodborne, it was a very solid demo, at least the five minutes I got to play because I died so quickly.

Tiger: And I crashed the demo station I was on. *laughs* Bloodborne was tight, I am not a huge Demon’s Souls/Dark Souls fan but I want to get Bloodborne. The weapon combos were fun and the whole premise of the game sounds cool.  I have to talk just a bit about Oculus Rift too. That tech is solid, I was super impressed. The room I was “standing” in felt natural including the distance between myself and the floor or walls. Man, I’m really impressed. If Morpheus is anything like Oculus, I’m getting it. Heck, I’d get Oculus if it had PS4 support planned. I’m not a fan of motion control or these gimmicky type peripherals but I think Oculus Rift could be something.

Rabbit: OMG! ^puts hands up to face^ There’s just too much to talk about and we haven’t even answered our question for this entry!

Tiger: Yes, so if you want to hear more about PAX Prime 2014 and our adventures there, shoot us a question in the comments section and we’ll be happy to answer them.
Rabbit: Getting back to the task at hand, so Tiger, do you think gamers should attend PAX Prime?

Tiger: I’m going to be the total pessimist here and say that no, PAX Prime isn’t worth attending for gamers. Why? Because you don’t actually get to play that many games. We were super lucky that we got to play what we did. PAX Prime is a great experience and I really love going but I’m going to bring up something Shidoshi mentioned to Anthony on A Generic Video Game Podcast. PAX Prime is supposed to be for the gamers, he said it should be a floor filled with demo stations but it’s not. So much of it has turned into one crazy marketing circus. This was our second year at PAX and I could see that there was a lot more marketing going on than in 2012. Ubisoft’s booth alone was nuts. Most of it was set up for a weird cage match that you had to wait hours in line to participate in. Yes, there are some amazingly cool things to do and see at PAX Prime but it’s not for gamers who want to play upcoming games. I say if you get a chance to go, definitely do so but don’t go with the mentality that you’ll be able to play a lot of video games.

Rabbit: Wow, you’re such a party pooper.

Tiger: Hey, someone had to pick the negative answer and I knew it wasn’t going to be you. I do stand by what I said; it’s not the gaming-centric event that I was expecting it to be. It was more games marketing-centric this year. I’ll still try to go when I can but I’m tapering my expectations that it’s becoming more and more like E3. So what say you, Rabbit?

Rabbit: Well of course I’m going to say yes! PAX Prime is awesome! AWESOME! The sights, the sounds, maybe not so much the smells, but the whole experience is amazebunnies! If you ever get a chance to go, do it dude! While even though this was only our second time, it’s true what Tiger says, it did feel like it was becoming a mini E3. Considering it’s the only large scale gaming convention that we’re able to attend, I still say it’s worth swimming through all the PR stunts to experience PAX Prime. As long as you are patient, you do get the opportunity to play games before they’ve hit store shelves. Even if you never get to try the big name IPs, there are still a ton of indie games and games from smaller studios that have shorter lines. And if you don’t play a video game, there are a ton of other things going on at PAX Prime. Panels! Board games! Tournaments! Cookies! There are lots of things that make going to PAX Prime worth the price!

Tiger: Before we wrap this up, I do want to give a shoutout to the PAX Prime Enforcers! They are the amazing volunteers behind every PAX. They keep everything running smoothly. Out of all the conventions we have gone to, PAX is by far the smoothest, well organized event we’ve attended. I don’t think it would be the same experience if it wasn’t for the hard work and dedication of the Enforcers, so thank you!

Rabbit: Yes, thank you Enforcers! You were a delight and a huge help during the entire event. I can’t believe that even working those long shifts, we never met a grumpy Enforcer. That’s more than I can say for you, Tiger. You got a case of the grumps towards the end of it.

Tiger: *crosses arms* Hey, it was a long weekend, I was tired. Anyway, that does it for us, thanks for reading this extra-long, link filled Q Attack everyone!

Should Gamers Attend PAX Prime?

Tiger     vs     Rabbit


  1. Found this to be interesting in regards to Bloodborne. Only 20 people beat the PAX demo out of roughly 3,500. I'm sure a lot of that had to do with unfamiliar controls etc. but it's still an interesting statistic. -Tiger

    1. And they even made the demo easier, sheesh. -Rabbit