Day 0 - Arriving in Seattle

Category: PAX Prime 2015 + Seattle
Published: Friday, 28 August 2015
Written by Evilmatt

It’s typical that as soon as you are going away some vital urgent thing pops up and everyone who should know (given you booked it months ago and put the dates on the top of every weekly report) are surprised you’re not going to be there.


So it was all panic when I left work I did all I could to get things in the right place so it should go fine. I missed out on free pizza too which I’d very much like to have now but I’m getting ahead of myself.


I left at normal sort of time since I had a late flight I looked at getting the VTA but it suggested a 45min trip for not actually very far. I think I could have walked it in 45min though maybe not with lugging bags and so forth.


I took an Uber instead which was nice quick while I was waiting I chatted to the security guard who asked me if I was going out of state which threw me a little I don’t really think in terms of states. I know that here it’s more of a big deal given the size and scope. He then chatted to me about various gaming and internet conferences he mentioned Twitch con which is down in San Francisco in a month or so I’ve not really been that interested in going to that one but I am going to the playstation experience also in SF a bit later in the year. My Uber arrived and we cruised over to the airport took about 5 minutes dropped me at the terminal B and I then went through the security.


I finally got round to getting a tsa friendly all plastic belt so I don’t have to stand there holding my trousers up while being irradiated worked pretty well. Went through settled in with a book and waited for the flight. I looked around at food options but nothing grabbed me lot of restaurants I wanted something quick like a sandwich but none of the places had any.


At about 9:15 they started bording our flight I was in the enviable position of A01 so was the first of the general passengers on the plane. I stuck my back in the bin and grabbed a window seat settling back in with my book. We got a nice view of the bay as we swooped up and over.


It’s a short flight out about an hour and half in the air we arrived in Seattle at about 11:40. We got a spectacular nighttime view of the space needle naturally I was without an easy to access camera. I grabbed my bag and hoofed it over to the light rail not wanting to miss the last train.


The final train downtown didn’t leave till 12:10 so I actually had plenty of time still better safe than sorry. I rode the light rail downtown and hopped off at the last stop the Westlake center.


The hotel I’m staying at for the first section of the trip is a fairly swanky Hyatt at Olive8 (street names olive street and 8th ave the hotel is on that corner) and I got a nice king sized room on the 16th floor with a fantastic view directly into someones offices. It was now too late for room service and I didn’t see anywhere open that would sell me food so I’m just going to go hungry. I looked around for perhaps a mini bar but they have a psudo fridge instead which normally I would prefer as I rarely use expensive mini bars and would prefer somewhere to keep a drink cold.



Anyway I set up everything to charge and then went to bed as PAX starts bright and early tomorrow morning.

Day One PAX – Friday 28th Aug

Category: PAX Prime 2015 + Seattle
Published: Saturday, 29 August 2015
Written by Evilmatt

Got up had a shower made coffee spilled it all over the desk ran around franticly cleaning that up. Then headed out for the keynote which was Story time with Kim Swift of Portal, Left4Dead, and Quantum Conundrum fame. She's now working for amazon games studios on a hush hush pc title. She started off explaining she wasn't making portal 3 or half life 3 and that she doesn't own that IP so couldn't make those games even if she wanted to.


After that she gave a nice overview of the insides of game development what sorts of jobs there were what they did for the games and also debunked some common misconceptions about things. She also listed this ( wonderful 8 step how to be a game programmer in which we get to step 5 before “learn to program” comes up.


She also showed some of the “feedback” she had received both good and bad. The bad was mostly blacked out expletives the good stuff was constructive criticism.


In all it was a fun and informative talk on the subject.


After that it rolled straight into Mike and Jerry Q&A #1 it was using the new submitted question format which mostly ruled out the crazys and or people who wanted their final 200 page erotic fantasy fanfic rated. There was a weird beginning message about some crazy conspiracy about a fictional PAX Europe which I don't think is a thing but they had a sparkly dunces hat for Jerry to wear.


The rest of the questions were more normal things like how the strip had changed as the two have grown up. Would they pay for college degrees for their kids or suggest they do what they did live in a rundown flat eating nothing but ramen noodles for a few years. There were some interesting questions of future kickstarters would they do something like a thorn watch animated series or something from the Nightlight storyline. They were open to that but since they've just done the Automata kickstarter it's too soon. They also talked about moving PAX prime and the answer Robert Khoo had given them was NO. So that's that.


They also talked about the HTC VIVE vr system and Jerry described the prototype as a “digital colostomy bag” that you strap to yourself. Then he also talked about his favorite demo of the oculus being a simulation of sitting at a desk and how he would be sitting at his desk in real life looking at virtual desk and then smacking his head into the real world keyboard or biting his desk as he tried to look closer. They also described how the Vive warns you off obstacles in it's holoroom style system with a gentle blue mesh and how it made you feel quite safe where as other systems you don't want to move for fear of walking into a wall. Jerry also sang a sea shanty and it was established Mike can't sing except perhaps Micheal Jackson songs.


Once that was over I headed to the shops to pick up some vittles I went back to the hotel and ate a sandwich then dashed down to the Westin where I joined the queue to the Mike and Jerry make a game panel with Mike Selinker and his team helping. The game they came up with was eventually called “Meat Your Maker” set in a world of intelligent sandwiches with four races (subs, wraps, panini, and biscuit) you had to get three cards with three recipes for sandwiches then in under some time limit you rolled a dice to collect parts then you made your sandwiches from those parts and then battled you sandwiches more dice for more parts completed. The did story, art, cards and dice and tested and started playing it in under an hour. The only down side with this panel is the guy next to me kept dozing off leaning on my shoulder.


I grabbed a swag bag then headed back to the hotel for some rest and relaxation. There is a Gearbox panel at 4 that I might go to or I could just stream it not sure. Later tonight there is Acquisitions incorporated which I want to see.


I watched the Gearbox panel they talked about Tales of the borderlands from telltale ep4 which sounded pretty good I've got behind on that series but what I've played I really enjoyed. Telltale are the best at this sort of thing they basically lead that market.


Then they mentioned that there is going to be a Borderlands movie from Lionsgate and the producers behind the spiderman films and ironman films they were the ones who figured out how to do superhero movies and Gearbox are gambling they will be the ones to figure out how to make a good video game film. Early days yet and no details but interesting.


Next they talked about their new IP Battleborn (all Gearbox original ip has to begin with a B) it's planned for early next year. They showed some footage it looked interesting 25 different playable characters solo coop and competitive. The story was interesting it's based on the idea that all the stars have burnt out but one and all the remaining races are gathered around it.


They went through some of the characters with the borderlands characters they had different abilities but moved and fought somewhat the same ways. With Battleborn they mentioned they were trying to make them all play differently in motion and attack. I wonder how they will manage to balance that.


Next they had a butload of cosplayers and then a marriage of two borderlands fans with a selection of officiates including Kris Straub who was eventually relegated to ring bearer. They had borderland themed vows and a claptrap ring cushion. Finally an epic group hug.


Randy Pitchford started doing a magic trick but then the twitch feed went down and I didn't get to see the rest.


I had a nice burger for dinner the guy delivering it mentioned he moved from San Francisco before the earthquake then he said something about selling 100k dollars of small jams and jellies which seemed like a complete non sequitur unless I misunderstood. Anyway it was good burger with some nice fries.


Later it was time for the live D&D and it was pretty good they had an awesome set with a little lake and a purple worm converted to a little house they also had a mechanical beholder mech model. They also had Statler and Waldorf style heckling gargoyles. It was pretty awesome with some great randomness I expect they will put it online for people.



And so ended day one.

PAX Day Three – Sunday 30th

Category: PAX Prime 2015 + Seattle
Published: Monday, 31 August 2015
Written by Evilmatt

Started off with the Nvidia panel which was part tech demo, part advert, part giveaway, and all chaos. The threw graphics cards tshirts and all sorts of tech at people no casualties that I could see.


They showed us their new streaming tech and unlike previously now you can have a second player stream into an existing game they demoed Trine 3 where a local player streamed in another player over the internet. They also showed some simplified streaming for let's plays etc.


The showed Rainbow 6 Siege which looked ok.


Then they showed some new graphics cards talking about DX12 and the effects there for 4k gaming. They showed some Dota stuff with a special latency enhancing tech on the 950. They showed the shield console and then finally they had a quick trailer of law breakers which is Cliff Blesinski's new game he was on stage talking about it.


The they had some odd game at the end.


After that I had a brief walk around the block to get some air and then headed in to see the Q&A #2 which was fun there were a lot of questions on clones and also an odd metallic sheet from the pax Europe conspiracy.


I took a tour of the show floor saw a few booths the minecraft storymode emplacement which telltale had. I also saw this epic Dark Souls three action model with fountain brown blood.


I had some pizza for lunch it was fresh off the grip and volcanicly hot so was somewhat hard to eat. Thus refueled I headed to the Thornwatch panel.


They'd been teasing some big announcement there for pretty much all the q&a's and they had two things. The first was that Mike Selinker and his team would be working on the game. The second was that the Thornwatch was going to be redone and would become Eyrewood Adventures and the thornwatch will just be one of the playable factions and it would now include the lookouts and the daughters of the Eyrewood. They were taking most of the existing game mechanics and reworking them for these new mechanics. Their take on the three factions was that the thornwatch are established they are the magical ateam they don't get more powerful. The lookouts start weak and slowly gain abilities in badges. The daughters are more about territory and managing their section of the forest. All interesting stuff.


Next up I saw a panel by CD Projeckt Red the polish developer of the witcher games on the difficulties of adapting books into games. Witcher 3 is relatively new and a superb game the witcher is based on a very popular series of Polish books they are not that popular in the west but slowly becoming so based on the success of the game. They talked about the difficulties of taking that text and making a game from it the peculiarities of translation. In the book and games Yenifer has a thing for stuffed animals and has a stuffed unicorn and they put that in the game in the french version of the books that was translated as Rhinoceros. Not quite the same thing. They also had the new expansions that are coming out towards the end of the year.


Went to see Chris Perkins Ask a Dungeon master panel it was interesting he talked about his career as a DM and how he evolved to form the idea that games are like episodic tv programs. He talked about how you should give your characters their own arcs or moments in the sun how not being too reliant on your prepared stuff improvising and use the rules when you need but don't be afraid to break them if it's more fun. I've never DM'd I'd like to try one day but not sure if I'd be good at it.


I headed over to the Westin at 9 for the ClubPA meetup and photo. It started a little late but we all posed for the photo then Robert did a Q&A that was very interesting and since it was semi secret I can't talk about. It's a nice little bonus to have that little peak into the inner workings it seems like a thing they are fairly committed to. It was interesting talk and a nice little bonus to being a ClubPA member.


Tomorrow is the last day of PAX and it's been a blast.



It's different from say PAX East where we had to travel further so having a break in the middle of the day wasn't possible but then again since it was all in house in the one place it was less tiring. With Prime since it's distributed around downtown Seattle and Seattle being the hilly place it is there is a lot of walking involved up and down to and from different hotels and the main theater in the Benaroya. Having good twitch stream has helped I can take a break get some lunch and still enjoy some of the panels. I've got the rest of this week to recover and see a bit of the city I've picked a few possible things to look at. 

PAX Day Two – Saturday 29th

Category: PAX Prime 2015 + Seattle
Published: Sunday, 30 August 2015
Written by Evilmatt

I didn't sleep all that well I had some strange dreams about work setting up a gardening department growing lots of watermelons that then got infested with huge ants which attacked me. So that was nice.


I got up early had some coffee and then headed over to the Westin to see a talk on the science of video game addiction. It was a really windy day with some rain not as nice as the previous day. The talk was given by two twin brothers Dr Tyler R Black Medical Director / CAPE Unit, BC Children's Hospital a Psychiatrist and Ryan Black a lawyer who specialized in video game law. They both made it clear that they were both gamers.


The first sections was about the current research into video game addiction and the current search. The current description of video gaming as an addition is somewhat weak most addictions you can't stop you get withdrawal symptoms video gaming isn't really like that. For the addiction they just copied the gambling definition and changed the title to gaming addiction. The most widely quoted studies the 8% of children are addicted had major flaws in the methodology the selection criteria was bad it was really vague some of the questions were ridiculous (like asking do you borrow money to get games to 8 year olds where else are they going to get that money?). 


Most studies on this (some 270) cite this one. They did an in panel test and with that same setup some 71% of people in the room could have been said to be addicted which is ridiculous.


He then talked about how he deals with some of the kids he saw who had problems with playing videogames too much and often it was due to other issues. Kids with parents not setting boundaries and not supervising them. Or kids who don't do well at school or don't have friends but they're good at video games and they want to do well at something. 


It was interesting he was talking about how if look at things like reading books which we treat as healthy and think about replacing the same behavior with gaming it's then a bad thing. So someone reading on the beach fine someone playing a game on the beach now it's a waste.


After that his brother the lawyer took over and talked about the state of the law. He talked about the way things like gambling are regulated and how some of the games like free to play dlc and micro transactions are moving the games more and more towards something more like gambling which could mean existing laws could be easily re framed to limit them. He argued moving away from that and self regulating adding things like refunds or lockouts would improve things. 


It was an interesting talk that I quite enjoyed they took a serious subject looked at it from a position of evidence and made the talk interesting.


After that I hit the show floor for a bit saw lots of interesting things. Assassins Creed Syndicate, BattleBorn, Homefront revolution, Fallout 4, Dishonored 2, some doom thing, new uncharted, Tim Schafer, and others.


It was hectic and rushed and packed. I grabbed a hotdog and a drink for lunch and then wandered some more.


I decided to pick up a new 3ds with the face tracking which was nice. 


Next I watched the make a strip panel. Jerry was amazed by the sign language interpreter and said lots of things to see what they looked like. Mike drew the strip while Jerry did some Q&A they asked some interesting questions are there going to be any good video game movies topical given Borderlands the movie. How they felt about Camp Wedontwantya being the greatest coming on PA and what they felt about that (pretty great). How alleyways in Australia aren't full of murderers and death but with restaurants and bookstores. Does a hotdog count as a sandwich or is it more like a taco? Or is a tiny sub? Have they considered having Vin Diesel to join a game of Acquisitions Incorporated? They would like to and also Felicia Day. The comic was odd and involved lizards.


After that I saw the Dragon Age panel which had some interesting about the concept art and the difficulties of localization of translating not just the text but the ideas and the gestures as well as the songs in the game. They talked about the characters and how they made them and how they changed it so there was more freedom to your how you layout the party. They made them more interesting so there weren't any beige characters and had the idea of the advisers who are sort of party characters that they did with mass effect. They talked about the dlc Jaws of Hakkon and the descent. Then they talked about “the golden nug” sort of new game plus. It allowed you to store any stuff you'd found and then use it on an early game. Then the crowd all went mental about a wardrobe they were adding it was a bit odd. 


Next they talked about the final DLC interestingly it's an epilogue which is something that DLC usually has a problem in that it comes out after you've finished. It takes place two years after the end of Inquisition and it looks at the aftermath of the game. Called Trespasser and coming 8th of september looks pretty good they showed the trailer and that's where they left it. 


Later I headed out to catch An Evening with Kurtz and Son with Scott Kurtz and his father. I forgot my badge on the way down so had to go back for it and was just on time. However I mistakenly joined the queue for the next thing rather than going right in so missed a couple of minutes. It was a funny talk about their history lives personal problems and also finding ways to use the sign language interpreter to sign things. It was great fun, when I got out I thought about going out to the concerts or maybe getting a sandwich but it was chucking it down so I decided just to head back and eat the store bought emergency sandwich I had prepared. I thought about heading to the hotel bar but it was a bit busy maybe after pax when I'm not getting up early.

PAX Day Four – Monday 31st

Category: PAX Prime 2015 + Seattle
Published: Tuesday, 01 September 2015
Written by Evilmatt

Final pax day and I started it with the third and final Mike and Jerry Q&A which was fun they mentioned this game called Deception that they played in their first 15 video series that sounded really interesting and there was a vita version so I gave that a go. I then headed over to the show floor with the intention of seeing if I could get some goes on things. It was super busy even more than the other days and I couldn't really get near anything even the less popular stuff had huge queues. I grabbed a bit of pizza for lunch this time less volcanic than yesterday.


I headed through the indie sections of the show floor which had lots of interesting looking games there was Divinity: Original Sin 2 and several other. A lot of these had already gone early access or some such which rather reduced their impact. Why queue for hours to try something that if you really want to you can own for ten dollars.


I watched a panel on magic the gathering not really out of interests more due to found something to do rather than wander the stampeding death arena of the show floor.


After that I watched a panel on streaming D&D which was interesting they talked about how they had to change how they played to suit their audience.


I had a brief nap then headed down to the Benaroya opera house for the Omegathon final round. I always like to catch it if I can it puts a nice bow on the thing. I can remember at PAX East this year Jen getting very excited during that final round and it's surprisingly compelling as an event. This year the game was a custom level in the new Mario Maker themed around PAX. It was brutal and was full of traps and difficult sections. The challenge format was each player got 5 games to win. If the first player won on his 5 then the second player had the chance to steal it by completing it in less games or some such. If the second player won after the first player had his 5 then that was that.


It took them some 20 games before one of them beat it and the levels were pretty tough it had lots of PAX & Seattle themed stuff you started at the space needle worked through traffic to the convention center and then into pax with the PC room and the tabletop room it was pretty great.


With the final round over and PAX finished for another year I headed back to my hotel room. I'll probably have a lazy day tomorrow as I'm here for the rest of the week maybe pop down to the water front or have a wander in Pike Place Market. Maybe find a good coffee shop and just have a read.



It's been a good PAX some interesting panels which I've enjoyed it's a fun if hectic four days. Monday is always a bit more relaxed with less on as it all finishes late afternoon. As I walked back there were lots of people packing up grabbing their bags and heading out. I expect Seattle will be a lot quieter tomorrow.