PAX East Day One (Friday 6th March)

Category: Boston + Pax East 2015 Published: Saturday, 07 March 2015 Written by Evilmatt

We got up fairly early put the coffee machine on had coffee and partially incinerated pop tarts for breakfast charcoal and strawberry flavor mmmm.

Once fortified and kitted out for the weather we departed planning to take the T down to the convention center. We walked down to the station and I got a 7 day pass from the machine Byrnie and Jen had gotten charlie cards (the local oyster/metrocard/compass/clipper equivalent) and then we headed down to catch the first of the three lines we needed to get to PAX.


The green line was pretty busy it took four trains/trams before we could actually all get on (which sounds like a lot but there was basically one train after another all stacked up in the tunnel) and then I spent the trip on the stairs and for early parts of the trip Jen was clinging to Byrnie who was clinging to me as there was no hand hold. Some pin-balling latter it emptied out a bit and then we got to our first change. We got on the quieter Red line which seemed to be mostly Paxites and then rode that two stops to where we switched to the relatively empty Silver line (which is actually busses) and the remaining few stops to the convention center.


It has us arriving at about 9:30 in plenty of time for the 10:30 keynote. The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (or BCEC) is monstorous. The main stage is like an aircraft hanger and the main show floor like a massive … convention center such as one of the halls at Olympia in London. It’s very unlike PAX Prime in Seattle where the convention center is too small for all the events so they spill out into anexes and hotels and theaters and opera houses and even then what space it does have is a weird twisting mess of interconnecting floors with odd “secret” passages throughout. BCEC is massive has all the various theaters in place and often with a lot of room to spare and the massive show floor with all the things like bring your own PC and table top stuff that in Prime is relegated to some obscure corner. One of the questions at the PA Q&A was what were the best bits for each PAX and they did say that Boston has the best convention center, Seattle was down to convenience since PA is based there.


First up was the keynote, Story time with TellTale games Kevin Bruner and Dan Conners. They took us through how they founded Telltale from working at LucasArts on things like Grim Fandango and then the canceled Sam and Max Freelance Police then when the company changed directions they setup their own company with a focus on story telling. They then went through some of their earlier works and even shows some pre telltale experiments they had been doing in early interactive media. They talked about the three phases of Telltale the early stuff Sam and Max season one where the stories were self contained. The next phase where they began some more story arch things with Sam and Max Season 2, the Jurassic park games, Back to the future and then finally the more modern fully plot arched games like Wolf Among Us (which was a comic book license that got turned into a game by telltale and then back into a comic book after, so now they need to make a game of the comic of the game of the comic ;) ) and then the very popular Walking dead games.


They also speculated a little on their future and what was next for them talking about a partnership with Lionsgate films. They also then distributed free steam codes for their entire back catalog of games (or at least the ones they owned the rights to which was still a huge chunk of their stuff basically everything bar the CSI games they made). Which is an awesome bit of swag.


After they were done came the Penny Arcade Q&A which used the new format (well newish) of pre done questions in envelopes white for easy ones red for hard. Though it seemed Robert Khoo who had done the categorization of the envelopes was playing some sort of game for his own amusement, they also had a “Dun dun Dahhhhhhh!” music play every time they opened a red (or mostly in time). One of the early white cards asked Jerry and Mike if they made a PA the movie who would play their wives which is pretty dangerous territory. Jerry had a good answer in that his wife could play herself as she had a theater degree. The new system also cut out some of the people who would come upto the mike and then ramble for ages about their screenplay that they wanted Jerry and Mike to do something with and waste everyone elses time.


There were some good questions like request for Jerry to do a weekly notebook of stories or songs or similar like Mike does a sketch book of art. There was some stuff on the future PATV stuff that they couldn’t talk about but hinted new stuff would be coming. Some interesting stuff on Thornwatch and a spoiler about them.


All in all a good Q&A.


After we headed off and wandered a bit then realized tea time with Scott Kurtz was soon so went and joined the queue. We got in to that in reasonable time and then Scott talked to us about a variety of topics most unsuited for republishing he also called his dad and talked to him about a crock pot dish he was cooking and his wow characters. It was a funny hour or so after which we were getting hungry.


We toured the food court and didn’t see anything we fancied mostly burgers and hotdogs some other but the chief problem was a lack of seats. We headed across to the Westin via a sky bridge and looked there. It was also packed but it had a proper restaurant called MJ O'Connor's which had beepers for virtual queuing. We booked a table for three and then went to the nearby starbucks and grabbed a coffee (or in my case an iced tea lemonade) from the overworked staff who seemed to be collecting more orders than they could process thus creating a bit of a backlog. Since we had an hour to kill this wasn’t an issue.


We luckily found a table and enjoyed some refreshment while waiting for our meal trying to ignore the beeper device that kept complaining about being out of range with voice and beeps. It turned out to be perfect timing the moment we got back to the restaurant at the other end of the lobby our beeper went off. We were seated pretty quickly and selecting food and drinks. It was fairly late for lunch at about 4pm and so we decided to have a reasonable meal since we were planning to attend the concerts and would be unlikely to find time for a full dinner. The place was a pseudo Irish pub sort of place so I had bangers and mash with a glass of sam adams red ale. There was some confusion over beer sizes as they came in small 16oz and large 20oz and given those are American fluid ounces and I don’t know the conversion and being mislead on relative size by the waitresses hand gesturing I played safe and went for a small size.


As we later calculated 20oz American is almost exactly a UK pint. Still a small glass was just fine and given the thirst inducing nature of queuing probably wise.


The bangers and mash were heavy on the bangers 3 nice large sausages and lite on the mash but it also came with a small dish of beans. It was very good with nice meaty sausages good creamy mash with a decent gravy and the presumably Boston baked beans being a nice side. The sam adams washed that down fairly nicely.


Refueled and ready we headed to the “Why Gaming with a Disability Should Matter to You” panel which was hosted by the founder of Able Gamers an accessibility advocacy group. The panel was a mix of developers and gamers most with some form of disability. They made some excellent points about accessibility and how often it’s just good game design to include it and it increases the size of your market. Things like the terrible quick time events and other of the twitch gaming things are just bad for everyone. It’s lazy design that no one likes I know I hate them with a passion and they must be even more frustrating for people unable to get through them. They talked about how adding things to allow people to play at the level they are able to play at rather than locking them out of things. And some of the progress to making things more accessible like the simplest adding color blind modes to games that need color identification. It was an interesting panel and made some excellent points about how easy it would be to fix some of these things to allow more people to enjoy things. They also pointed out that while a lot of the audience were not disabled it could easily happen to any of us unexpectedly and then we would want to be able to still game so by pressuring companies to do more to make games accessible we are also helping our future selves.


After that it was getting on for 6:30 and so we wandered a bit, the show floor had unfortunately closed at 6 so couldn’t see that so we cruised the merch areas and band land looking at the various acts most of which were off preparing for the Friday night concerts. We did see some excellent ghostbusters cosplay with fantastic proton packs with all the lights and gizmos then next to them a stay puffed marshmallow woman.


We went and grabbed another coffee going for frappacinos this time. I had a mocha frappacino which is basically a chocolate and coffee milkshake or perhaps slushie. It was pretty good I had a grande size, Byrnie went for the more ambiguous large setting and got a venti sized version. He also suffered from high levels of brain freeze as a result.


Once he was done forcing the copious amount of coffee slush down his throat we headed over to the queue which started moving almost immediately up to the topfloor. We then got separated in a queue transition accident that saw me at the start of one queue and Byrnie and Jen at the end of another. This was resolved later when we joined up again in the main hall.


They had cleared half the chairs with the front being open. We opted to sit at that back and settled in to wait for the first act.


First up was Super Guitar Bros who did a set with two acoustic guitars playing some mario, some diablo, some zelda, and then they managed to slip in a rick roll some careless whisper and then finally the final countdown by europe. They also talked a lot of smack about the next guys.


Next up was Triforce Quartet (complete with 2 violins 1 viola and 1 cello) they played smash bros, mega man, the Dragons Age Inquisition theme, a zelda medley, parts of their two different final fantasy medleys one was boss the other not. No Rick Astley though.


Finally they had Paul and Storm who started with an extended start of the show where they messed around with the drum set left on stage for someone. Then harassed the two camera guys and finally implied they were the band you settled for if you can no longer get Johnathan Coulton which seems to be the case. They were also welcomed with the chants Storm and Paul. During the course of their performance it became a thing to go “WOOOO!” when ever either took a drink of water, I’m not sure why.


They were as funny and manic as ever with all the great old songs and some new ones. When they played Opening band people threw a pair of pink boxers (from the university of Pennsylvanian technology school or some such), a hair brush, an orange, and a pack of oreos. Storm proceeded to eat the orange Paul handed out the Oreos and ate some. Naturally while right up against the cameras. They then plugged their app sound bard which is a load of sounds for spicing up D&D games, had everyone tweet rude ascii at Wil Wheaton, showed the most awesome 35 seconds on the internet (a cat video) and played some songs finishing with the ever popular nigh on legendary Pirate Captains Wife’s Lament lots of RRRR’s. It was great fun as always they know how to work that crowd and are always good to see.



After that we headed out and took the provided shuttle bus back to Hilton back bay and then it was a short walk back to our flat. It would have been a shorter walk but one crossing the way was a narrow track on the snow bank which looked extremely perilous and the opposite side was no better it had a wall of snow to climb. So we went back up the street to the other end where we knew it was clear. We did a quick bit of tidying up I uploaded photos and typed this then it’s off to bed as it’s another early start tomorrow.

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