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Sunday, August 28, 2011

PAX 2011, Day Three: We Loot the Bodies

Posted by on Sun, Aug 28, 2011 at 10:28 PM

It's a good time to be a nerd. PAX Prime is over for now, but we're as invigorated as we are exhausted, and we know some folks who are already prepping their presentations or costumes for next year. We discovered hidden levels, saw a presentation that made us think about things (despite confirming our biases), and wallowed in our element for the last few hours of full-on nerd density. Here's what we learned, plus a poop joke:

  • Skulls of the Shogun is a sweet, visually fun action/strategy game from local* developers Haunted Temple Studios. It features dead samurais fighting it out eternally in the afterlife, and it's coming out in January on XBLA, PC, and Windows Phone 7.
  • We chatted with Jeff Ryan, author of Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America, and he was perfectly charming, if teetering on the verge of tour-exhaustion. We've barely cracked the book yet, but so far it's a fun, smart look at semi-local powerhouse Nintendo of America. We also learned that one of us is a mere one degree of separation removed from the Mario who gave the world's most beloved plumber his name. 1-UP!
  • Friend of Slog Roman took this fine shot of the much-fun-having, super-cute Guitar Hero:

    Star Power!
    • Roman Frillarte
    • Guitar Hero!

  • Canadian psychiatrist Dr. Tyler Black told us all to calm the fuck down about violent games in the limply titled "Kids, Video Games, and Psychiatry II: Electric Boogaloo." He did put on a great show, in a low-key sort of way, and showed that violence (especially in the young people today) is on the decline from its peak about ten years ago, despite ever-more-violent-and-popular games. Better still, he delivered Skepticism 101 for non-scientists, showing how to ask the right questions of science and, more importantly, science journalists.
  • Pico is the future. We geeked out a few weeks ago over the Apple patents for incorporating pico projectors into future iPhones, so we had to visit local pico pros MicroVision. This disruptive tech** is amazing and getting amazing-er, in both tininess and image quality. Sadly, this photo sucks (and it's actually from E3, not PAX), but you can start to imagine the Minority Report possibilities of having screens everywhere (especially as people start to figure out I/O workarounds to make them interactive):

    This is a kid who is also a projection screen. THE FUTURE!
    • This is a kid who is also a projection screen. THE FUTURE!

  • Despite frequent hand-washing and sanitizer dousing all weekend, one of us got a tiny spit fleck in our eye from A FOREIGNER during a product demo. If there's a PAX flu this year (no word yet), we are now a vector.
  • It's strangely fun and compelling to throw a couple Earths into Saturn just to see what happens. Universe Sandbox—from local indie developer Dan Dixon—gives you godly physics power, for just $10 on Steam.
  • If you're a fan of Diablo-y games, Path of Exile is an upcoming free, online-only action RPG that looks, plays, and sounds impressive, with a gritty vibe and a crazy huge skill tree. Plus, the developers are taking the high road and limiting paid content to vanity items. Watch for the beta to open up soon.
  • A dude in a black full-body cloak entered a stall in the men's room. Immediately thereafter, a happy sound effect from Zelda (let's hope it was a cell phone alert) chirped from within. Without missing a beat, he busted out with "I think I discovered something in the toilet!" (Credit would also have been awarded for "I just dropped some loot!")

* As local as can be with little indies, anyway; most of these folks collaborate online over thousands of miles, and HTS is no exception.
** Sorry, sometimes we have to use the language of our oppressors.

The Stranger Testing Department is Rob Lightner and Paul Hughes.


Comments (8) RSS

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TheMisanthrope 1
Dr. Black's lecture was actually decent, but ran really REALLY long, and needed a lot of editing in his Craig Anderson bashing (which was ironic, given the bashing he did for Dr. Anderson bashing other scientific papers). Also, I know the study is about kids and all, but if you have a noisy hungry baby, could you please take it outside instead of popping your tit out and feeding the kid, then having to burp it? It is very distracting to people who have a hard time drowning out distractions when not completely fully engaged.

A big big shout out to the cookie brigade. Your peanut-butter filled sugar cookies were glorious. I paid $2 for a few different letters (donated to Child's Play), and they were so worth it. YUM!

Biggest retro-gaming surprise of the con for me was Sega's Renegade Ops (I think?). It was instantly addictive with easy gameplay.

And, most entertaining panel was DToid Live. I highly recommend it for next year.
Posted by TheMisanthrope on August 28, 2011 at 11:55 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 2
Universe Sandbox is stupidly fun and unsurprisingly difficult, when you play God.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on August 29, 2011 at 7:56 AM · Report this
stinkbug 3
Where was the hidden level?
Posted by stinkbug on August 29, 2011 at 8:28 AM · Report this
@3: Sorry, that was a too-obscure reference to last year's "Secret Level," which was a small, secondary exhibition hall more or less where Halo Fest was this year. Exhibitors were unhappy with low foot traffic, so that section was moved up to the sixth floor this year. The Minecraft people guaranteed big traffic.
Posted by The Stranger Testing Department on August 29, 2011 at 9:38 AM · Report this
Badger 5
This years hidden level was the Dungeons and Dragons tournament area, as far as I could tell, you could only access it via a stairwell in the back of the Magic Tournament room - probably not a big deal D&D players are used to being in somebody's basement.
Posted by Badger on August 29, 2011 at 10:44 AM · Report this
prompt 6
Apparently Path of Exile's beta opens in seven minutes.
Posted by prompt on August 29, 2011 at 10:59 AM · Report this
Valravne 7
Dan Dixon was really nice and super engaging, and also very honest about what Universal Sandbox can and can't do, and what he wants to do with it in the future. It's on my 'to buy' list, especially as a GM for a scifi game.
Posted by Valravne on August 29, 2011 at 7:38 PM · Report this
@7, agreed on that, Dan is great. He said that the success on Steam had let him hire a couple developers, and one of the first things on the horizon was a Mac port (using Unity). Apparently everyone kept asking about multiplayer—which you can sort of do, asynchronously, by saving and swapping files—but real multiplayer is further off.
Posted by The Stranger Testing Department on August 30, 2011 at 9:56 AM · Report this

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