Ahh, almost a full year living in Washington state, and so my first year at Penny Arcade Expo. Went with two buddies of mine and I finally got to see what all the hoo-hah was about.
The only other time I went to a video game convention was at E3 some eons ago. Although I want to say I had a great experience then, honestly I did not. Insanely crowded, all the good games had a 2-4 hour wait, and just felt like I had to rush everywhere.
Also, I had years of experience both working and attending Anime conventions, so I expected this place to draw similar crowds and numbers. Was also never a fan of the OMG Randomness, and glomping, and “Look at me I’m so weird” that Anime conventions had, I am a reserved type of guy.
But PAX just seemed more mature.
With so many indie developers for video games and tabletop games, it just felt like the crowd was “smarter.” Granted you still had cosplayers and random people for the sake of being random, but I did observe that every was more professional. Maybe since the average age is a little older than the anime conventions I have been to.
The Composers Morning Panel
There was only one event I was mildly interested in, and was an early one at that. There was a panel featuring composers of Western video games, and I figured “Eh, why not?”
Although I prefer soundtracks from Asian-made video games, I went with the curiosity on learning how these talented composed made it in the industry. One of the guest composers, Austin Wintory, was someone I liked his works, like Journey, flOw, and his newest composition Abzû.
(Though to be honest if there were certain Japanese composers like Nobuo Uematsu, Yuzo Koshiro, Shoji Meguro, Yoko Shimamura, and more I can list, I would have been way more enthusiastic, knowing my video game preferences.)
We got to know the backstory and a bit of the creative processes from each of the composers, before the audience Q&A session. I did not stay for the rest of the panel, instead wanting to see the rest of PAX.
But I did get some knowledge and inspiration from the panel, and will apply that to see if I can try my hand in composing for video games (an ambition I put on hold for the last couple of years).
Tour of the Place
So after the panel, we went to the 6th floor with had mainly the indie developers. All the small time developers for both video game and board games scattered with booths all over. Played some games (like Stardust Galaxy Warriors, a great mecha shooting game), saw some game demos, and generally just observed and amaze myself at the great convention.
The fourth floor had more of the major developers as well as more prominent developers. There was a chance to get a free Final Fantasy XV t-shirt, but I did not want to stay in line for 1.5 hours just to demo FFXV. I rather just buy the game already!
I was amazed on how many game table there were for tabletop games, as I never been to a tabletop-dedicated convention. But it is great seeing lots of player engagement, and tried some myself.
This is a convention that encourages making games yourself, whether video games or board games, or something in-between. Very refreshing to see many indie developers, whether they are just launching their first game or have more fame under their belt!
Man, I should join their ranks, coming here has encouraged me so!
Spoils of War
I did not aim to spend a crap-ton of money, and only got two items that I really wanted: A Portal 2 mug and a Limited Edition Megaman Headphone set.
The Megaman headphones were unexpected. I totally forgot about these headphones and saw that they were available. There was even a limited gold version available, but I would rather get the blue ones because it’s Megaman, the Blue Bomber, the headphones HAVE to be in blue.
Don’t expect audio heaven sweetness here, this is a collector’s item. Even so, I will test and listen with these headphones while I sip from my Portal 2 drone-mug, wondering how different it would be to play as Megaman in a Portal game.
Although I only went for one day, it was plenty enough for me to see. Lots of things to do, but got tired from being inside lots of people and crowds (and smells I do not want to remember).
Have you been to PAX before? How was your experience like?