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The day I met Chewbacca – PAX 2014

PAX Melbourne Chewbacca
Anybody have some Chewie?

Ok so this should not be one of the highlights of my life, but…..

Thanks to my lovely wife for taking the photo and for not getting jealous.

2 days down at PAX as I reach for my first James Boags – looking back it has been a blast.

For the uninitiated, PAX = Penny Arcade Expo. dare I say kind of a Comicon.  Everything video games, comics and awesome costumes.  The overtly and covertly geek join together in celebration of alternate worlds and alternate thinking.

From the outset – I just love the energy, the exchange of ideas.  But what was most prevalent was the inclusion.  You could be dressed up as an Asari, or as Raiden, or in boring old civs like me and everyone was just happy to play, chat and impart knowledge.  There were a whole range of panel discussions and presentations in theatres across the way – I had a peep at the e-sports gaming panel.   Great to get knowledge of a completely different aspect of gaming.

Costume of the day for me – was definitely the Asari (Mass Effect Series – if you haven’t played.  Asari: They are kind of like well endowed female smurfs that mated with Squid Head.)  I was in line at the cafe when I saw her and was half scoffing down a hot dog, trying to get a receipt for the transaction – when she walked away.  I don’t have a photo, but a memory of the effort and the precision of the costume remain.

Biggest winner for the event would have to be “Cards Against Humanity”.  Ok so we played this over at E3.  It needs lots of alcohol.  It is like trivial pursuit for the depraved in all of us and gives some shocking insights into your friends minds.  Don’t play sober or with people who take themselves too seriously.  It is a piss take, but a hell (and I mean that) of a lot of fun.  The closest thing I have ever encountered (at a stretch) was a group of drunk people seriously and honestly playing “I Never”.  Seriously these cards sold out as soon as they had stock.

This year was interesting in that it was all about non-mainstream.  You just needed to look at the Xbox stand to see that it was more about Indie development and fringe games.

Conspicuous in their absence were Sony, EA and Activision –  an interesting decision given MS, Nintendo, Ubi and 2K really shone.  All booths were packed – and a line up for the big titles.  In the lead up to the manic Christmas selling period, you need to be top of mind.   This is an emotional and fast moving industry, with limited personal spending capabilities.  I am staggered that those with a Christmas title were not there.  Nor could you pre-order any title.  Seems like a massive opportunity lost.

Moreover. If I was a developer for an indie title and I went this weekend for ideas – I would be developing for PC and then at a small stretch for budget – for Xbox Live.

I really hope that those who went, support those who were there.

But enough of the downsides of the event – because there will be enough articles of derision by the small minded talking about mother’s basements, about people disconnected from reality and of those who cant find a partner.  These raise my ire – and are not for this post.

Big shout out to League of Legends and Wargaming also for putting everything into the show.  You all know about these – so not going to elaborate.  They fueled the excitement and energy of the show.

Ok so here is my list of games that I want to explore further – based on the show.

  1. The Crew – I like racing games to a point, then get really bored of doing the same thing over eg Forza, Gran Turismo.  This seemed to be a lot different with a lot more variety.  The street racing to me seemed like Juiced for the next gen.   Without the stupid drafting of the cocaine inspired sequel.
    1. The speed of racing – i haven’t come across yet.  It is fast.  It is very fast.  Speed wise it is what you can do next gen.  Control wise – needs to be fixed and quickly.  Too much over steer on a correction.  I was a constant fish.  Frustrating as a racing game fan.  Don’t play if you are a novice to the racing genre.  If they get that right – a big winner.
    2. I really liked the different ways to play – not just point to point racing and not just on track.  But the thing that drew me to the title was that ability to basically drive around the US.  Apparently you can just freeplay and drive route 66 coast to coast if you so wish.  I am intrigued to see this in the final game – and really hope that you get true snapshot that makes you want to travel and do it for real.  Not just random buildings with the icons in place.
  2. Smite – I cant explain but this just seemed to talk to me.  Mythical Deity V Deity arena battles.  It was fast, it was fluid.  There seemed to be some more interaction and sharing than the big name counterparts.  One to watch.  I have downloaded based on their showing at PAX.  Seems like a heck of a lot of fun.
  3. Mario Kart 8 – the less said about my mario kart obsession the better.  I just cant justify that amount of money on a console for one game when everything else is rubbish.
  4. Scream Ride – Xbox.  I had a look at it on Friday and it looked amazing.  I had a look today and the guy playing was more lost than me in a violent open world game.  I just want to check it out.
  5. Knight Squad – Xbox again.  No I am not a fan boy of MS.  I just like to see support.  KS was top down multi player, seek and kill, pacman nonsense type title.  Again looked like a massive amount of fun with mates.  Not likely to be a big depth game.
  6. Evolve.  Couldn’t get anywhere near it.  This is for a reason.  Great to see 2K trot it out.  Whilst “The Witcher 3” was sadly missing.  2 of the biggest games of our gaming lives coming out within a couple of weeks of each other.  Multi V Single player.  If you walked out today – which (not witch) are you going to put your money on?
  7. WWE – heads up for those out of the know – I worked on WWE game for quite a while.  In a global marketing sense.  Yeah it was kinda funny that an Aus country boy took control of the brand and achieved 40% above their previous record.  Different story – another strange but entertaining post(s).  So immediately apparent with the brand is the maaaassssssssive mistake of going Ps3/X360 a month earlier than PS4/X1.  Yep Im gonna put this in another post – I don’t want you to get RSI from scrolling injuries.  Ill link when written.
  8. Battlecry – I cant elaborate more – because seriously you couldn’t get near it.  I don’t do lines (on all level)  so this is just one for me to peruse at my leisure.

PAX has been awesome for me – not only on a business level, but a personal level.  PAX has got me back in touch with my gaming.  Back excited about sitting down after the kids go to bed and indulge in an alternate world.

Best

Jon @ Savemi

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