PAX is back in town. It in no way competes for Seattle's attention with either Bumbershoot or our annual celebration of working men and women. But it should! It draws over 70,000 game fans and professionals to the Convention Center for three days of game-related demos, panels, and endless free play of everything from new Settlers of Cataan variants to old Nintendo classics. People have fun here.
It also in no way competes with Burning Man, but the parallels are compelling. Sure, there's an enormous room filled with expensive, megawatt-consuming displays of upcoming corporate product (see below, actually), but there are also tens of thousands of, to borrow an excellent term, participants.They dress up, they hug strangers, and they play. They play a lot! They are concerned with having fun, and they are unconcerned with what you think about them. They are punk rock. They want you to join them.
We were at PAX, but we watched more than we played, which makes us pitiable. So pity us, but heed our words:
We got a secret invite to a not-so-secret pre-PAX party last night. Avery's PAX Party was good fun over in the old BMW dealership off Broadway and featured better music than we expected, Twister, ping-pong, and (FTW) indoor soccer as well as some extra-sweet game-related art. One lovely set of collage/paintings by Jonathan Wakuda Fischer gripped us with lovely Japanese ladies juxtaposed with game-button combos, and while we admired it, the extremely friendly artist (pharmaceutical-grade friendliness, seriously; this guy could make friends with bees) introduced himself and charmed our pants off. (Metaphorically.) Check out his stuff here—or in person down at ArtXchange in Pioneer Square.
The news, it broke. PAX is branching out to a new plane of existence: Australia. PAX East has been a huge success in Boston, so of course they're expanding into new territory—and according to our secret sources, PA gets tons of traffic from Australia and lots of people fly here from there for the show (including several Oz Enforcers). Making a move on Australia works for Risk, so we expect great things. Also, in the good ol' U.S., PAX Prime is expanding to Mondays now, for a four-day fest.
Our love of Spell Tower is well documented—but forgive us for thinking that Zach Gage was just an app guy. As it turns out he's an all-around brilliant crazy person who has also made an Ascension-style paper-based card game. (Yes, we live in an age where one needs to say "paper-based card game.") Guts of Glory is a post-apocalyptic eating game, in which you start with five card-slots in an empty mouth, which you proceed to cram with various glory-generating foods... and it just gets nuttier from there. Fortunately—in a trend we're loving—you can download a full pdf version of the game from the Kickstarter site and try it out for yourself. Even better, visit Zach in the Hyatt for a demo.
We're still awaiting the most exciting Battle Block Theater announcement of all—the one where they say it's finally coming out—but it was some consolation to hear today's announcement of a user-generated level editor, which will no doubt be the heart of the final game. At least there are multiple stations this PAX to get in some Battle Block time!
A lot of developers are running PAX specials, so don't forget to poke around Steam and XBL Indie Channel this weekend. For example: Rain-slick is $3 on XBLIG and Steam, and Zeboyd's double pack (Cthulhu Saves the World & Breath of Death VII) is just a buck-fifty.
We played Borderlands 2 and can confirm that it is totally Borderlands 2. (Okay, one very cool thing of note for Borderlands fans: the game has an unlimited, profile-wide "Badass Rank," which lets you make upgrades that are then available for any character you make—so after you've beaten the game, you can go back and make a Level 1 dude that has access to a ton of cool buffs.) Also, weird kudos to Gearbox for apparently being fined by the city every year for buying 100+ contraband pizzas for everyone at their Sunday panel, because they refuse to buy them from the official convention-center concession for $30/each.
Craft-inclined? Or got a kid at PAX? Don't miss the Skallops room in the Hyatt, where you can hang out and build fun stuff with cards and clever little wooden widgets.
So, say a bunch of Canada geese are trying to get back home, and they accidentally go through the Bermuda Triangle and have to navigate through basically WWI, II, III, space aliens, and a bunch of other stuff that no Canadian should have to suffer. It's your job to save them, using your accelerometer (or your mouse, in a browser). That's Endless Migration 2, from Hot Air Raccoon Games, check 'em out in the Hyatt.
The Stranger Testing Department is Rob Lightner and Paul Hughes.