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This is coming in late only because I was so tired from being up so late yesterday. Phew... Without further ado, Day 2!
I'll add this here, because it just came to mind. While I was walking to another showfloor, I saw that guy from the Sonic livestreams:
Sorry for the blurry picture, but I was taking it as I was walking. He was playing some trivia with the audience while showing off Sonic Forces. Not really a Sonic fan myself, but I thought someone might get a kick outta this
This day at the showfloor was all about the indies! But first, I paid a visit to the Bethesda booth to see how long the wait would be to try their VR demos.
Three hours ._.
It was three hours. I think I should've considered that lucky, because when I checked back later, the lines were completely capped for the day. To be honest, I'd totally wait 3 hours to try Fallout 4 in VR, but there are other things to see and not a lot of time, so off I went! All said, Bethesda had a pretty awesome booth (it was actually four booths combined into one megabooth). They had all their games in full force -- Wolfenstein: The New Order, the new Evil Within game, Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind, and Dishonored.
Here's their cool Wolfenstein booth:
From here we went straight to the Indie Megabooth. The very first thing I saw when I arrived was Super Meat Boy Forever running on a few Nintendo Switches. I found out that if you pressed the Home button, the console would return to the Dev Kit menu, so while no one was looking, I snapped this pic:
There you go! The Switch Dev Kit UI in all its glory xD
I didn't make too many stops in the Indie Megabooth. I mostly just ogled the various games and kept walking. In the back of the booth, I found this!
There was this cool little shop that had Nintendo plushies for sale. They even had some colorful Squids from Splatoon! Really cute <3
Moving on, I stumbled across a Cartoon Network booth where they had an OK KO! game. That's a show on Cartoon Network if you weren't aware. So I gave it a try...
Aaaaaand I was utterly lost .-. That's my brother in the picture, playing for me because I couldn't figure out what to do. I still don't know what kinda gameplay this game has because I had no idea where to go, haha. It honestly seemed like some Flash game you'd expect a one or two man team to put for free on Miniclip or something. The pretty colors looked appealing from a distance, but the game is just ehhhhh.
We ran across the Xbox booth on our way to wherever the hell we were going next (we were just wandering at this point, haha). There was an Xbox One X on display in a glass case, and another one blown up with its various layers (motherboard, casing, etc.). Just... just look at this:
It looks fine and dandy at a glance, but when you really start to look at it... It's asymmetrical!! Do you see how the left end of the console is kinda hanging over the base? That's not a trick of the camera, that part is literally just sticking out for no apparent reason. The right side maintains the same leading as the rest of the box over the base, but the left side... I... My brain is screaming. Do not buy this console if you have OCD!!!
After this very troubling encounter with Microsoft's latest mental breakdown, we headed upstairs, where there was even more showfloor waiting for us. We ran into another area full of indie games and booths from local technical colleges with game dev programs, like Seattle Art Institute and DigiPen. As we wandered, two people got up off these blue beanbag chairs in front of two TVs playing The Escapists 2. Why not?
I've never played The Escapists, but hey, it wasn't so bad! They had the full game running here, and I accidentally loaded up an existing save on some super hard prison. I didn't even know the controls, so that went as well as you'd expect.
On the other side of these screens were another two screens with an upcoming Nintendo Switch title on them called Yoku's Island Express. And wow, was it something! I don't have a picture, but let me describe it. It's a pinball platformer. Basically, you control this little ant creature attached to a large ball and use the L and R buttons to control pinball paddles scattered across the world in order to traverse. You can also move the ant thing left and right to control the ball if its on the ground. Here's what I mean:
Very innovative and something I'll keep an eye on! Never played anything quite like it.
And now, probably the best exhibition in this whole event -- The Nindies Arcade! A small room they let a few people into where you can stay as long as you want and get to try out almost every new "Nindie" title Nintendo showed off in their Nindies reel in the last week and chat with their developers. The showfloor opens at 10am while this room opens at 11:30am, so around 11:40, we made our way here. We waited in line for about 40 mins to an hour to get in. Apparently most of the people in the room were family members of the developers and so were taking a long time, haha. Take a look at it:
Only a couple dozen people in a small room with all the Nindie titles scattered everywhere and developers showing their games off. I could write an entire article on my impressions of all the games I tried here (nearly all of them!), but I'll keep it short and tell you about a couple cool interactions!
I met the lead writer of Kentucky Route Zero, an episodic narrative-based adventure told from multiple perspectives about a highway in Kentucky known as "Route Zero." I had this one odd burning question, so I asked him, "How did you choose the font that you used?" For reference, this is what the font looks like (screenshot from the game):
The answer I got was actually quite cool! The font is an old typewriter typeface developed by IBM in Kentucky back in the day. I just found it so cool how fitting it was to the atmosphere and location of the game! I talked with him for a while about the game, and I asked about how easy the development process for Switch was. He actually showed me the game open in Unity and said that the development process was super simple because Unity can export to Switch. He also told me that he really liked the Switch's HD Rumble feature and that he was currently trying to figure out how and where to implement it in the game by release (early 2018). He was kinda shy and reserved, but a really chill person to chat with! Had a bushy beard and was the classic adult hipster nerd xD
I also got to talk with one of the four guys behind the Bit.Trip series, who was there showing off the newest title, Runner 3. I also asked him how developing a game on Switch was, and he also answered that it was far simpler than any other Nintendo console. I asked him why that was, and he explained that the Wii U and prior Nintendo systems used proprietary software that was hard to use and required a lot of learning time on top of actually porting things. Meanwhile, the Switch works very easily with Unity, Unreal Engine, and more, and is apparently super simple to work with. He couldn't get into any specifics because they were confidential, but it was a sweet glimpse into how much better the development pipeline for game developers is on the Switch!
And now, the other memorable interaction I had was with the lead artist on a game called "Floor Kids." This is a very interesting game, in that you tap the controller buttons in rhythm with the music, and you can tap it in whatever pattern you please, allowing for this very unique style of free dancing. I was intrigued when I first saw the trailer, and having gotten to play it, it was quite nice! So I got to talking with the artist on the game. We talked about pricing at one point, and he explained something interesting: Lower-priced games have lower review scores, so they're currently trying to balance what the game is worth with the negative perception of a low-cost game. I never knew that poor perception was an issue when pricing games to be super cheap. It gave me some really cool insight into why games are priced how they are. You know how people complain about expensive games? Well, the data apparently shows that a higher-priced game is viewed as higher-quality, even though consumers love cheap things. Enlightening! Eventually, we drifted into talking about multiplayer. He mentioned that multiplayer was a thing they were working on, so I asked him what kind of design challenges they ran into transitioning their normal, robust controls onto a much simpler single-joycon button layout. He explained to me their plans for multiplayer (which I won't mention here out of respect for information leaking, since the public doesn't know about this). Then, he walked behind a cloth screen with a Nintendo Switch logo emblazoned on it and pulled a Switch out of a bag. Apparently this was one of their company's Switch dev kits! It booted into the dev kit menu I posted a pic of earlier, and as I said, "Hey, is this a developer menu?" he motioned with his pointer finger and lips, "Shhhhhhhh!" Amazing xD From there, my brother and I got to check out their current prototype of multiplayer, something no one else has seen so far! And I have to say, the concept sounds really cool! I already really like the game, and the multiplayer is looking to be a very nice addition. Again, wait for them to reveal details on it, since what he showed me was just prototypes and I don't want to speak on their behalf. This guy was just awesome! I think I'm going to buy his game just from how great he was. Shameless promotion, you should check out Floor Kids!
Before you enter the Nindies Arcade, you get a little sheet of paper with all the game logos on it. When you play a game, you get a stamp. Get four stamps, and you get a Nindies pin and this cool T-shirt:
Yup, by far the best exhibition on the showfloor. It's not crowded, you get as much time as you want, you get to meet developers, and you get a cool shirt! Definitely an awesome time. We spent almost 3 hours in there!
The rest of the day went by with us trying various games. Of note, we tried this one VR game on the Oculus Rift:
It used the Oculus Touch controllers to control a space suit. You fly around a space station doing various things. The left controller controls thrust, the right one controls your direction. The game was honestly quite nice for the first 15 minutes, until the motion sickness kicked in. See, the game has you flipping around and doing maneuvers, and that causes you to get horribly motion sick. Obviously this problem of movement is present in all VR games, and so many decide to have a teleport system instead of player locomotion. Something the VR community will have to figure out and solve eventually.
Anyways, now to the BEST EVENT AT PAX.
The showfloor closed at 6pm, and at 8:30pm was....... the Telltale Annual Crowd Play! Basically, one episode of a Telltale-series game is played in front of a live audience and the audience gets to choose the choices. Newer Telltale games have a feature called Crowd Play where players can use their phones to vote for answer choices, similar to Kahoot. I attended this event last year, and we ended up crashing the hotel Wi-Fi lol, so instead of using the app, we shouted out our answers. To be honest, this was MUCH better than voting silently.
We left the showfloor when it closed and half two and a half hours to kill, so we ate some Subway and waited. I had brought my Switch with me, so while we were waiting, I was playing the Splatfest that was going on in Splatoon 2 around this time. I was not alone, as there were probably dozens of others doing the same thing, haha.
Show time! This year, the event was being hosted by Greg Miller (some of you might know who he is), and boy does he know how to hype up a crowd! This year was MUCH better than last year, as a result of him and also because, right off the bat, he said, "Everyone know what the Crowd Play feature is? That's the normal way to do this, but that's not the Greg Miller way! You're all going to shout out your answers, and I mean the entire line, not the buttons!" And OH MAN did this make it so much better! PICS:
(that's Greg looking intently at that laptop screen)
The game we played was Batman: The Enemy Within Episode 1, the second season of Batman: The Telltale Series. Honestly, this is probably one of the best episodes Telltale has made. The tension was great and the arc was just fantastic -- and that made for an even better Crowd Play! Imagine: hundreds of people packed into a room screaming choices at the screens, cheering at every epic moment, and shouting out all the quick-time prompts in unison! It's freaking electric, and something you HAVE to experience! As a side note, Greg said that he hosted another one of these events at ComicCon and that we were three times the crowd they were, so WOO, GO PAX!
At the end of the show, they gave out Steam keys for the Season Pass of Batman: The Enemy Within to everyone who attended! They did the same thing last year. And you know what? I now STILL own every single recent Batman game for free (except the LEGO ones). Story time: When I bought my current GPU, I got a code for Batman: Arkham Knight. Now, I'm sure you know how the PC port for that game was horrible, right? Well, as an apology, they gave everyone who "bought" the game all the other Batman: Arkham games for free. So just like that, I got all the Arkham games for free! Then last year, I got Batman: The Telltale Series at the previous Crowd Play event, and now I got the next season this year. So boom! Every single Batman game, for free. Feels good ^-^
Anyways, that wraps up Day 2! And seeing how it's so late now, I'm gonna end up writing Day 3 and 4's summary tomorrow as well. It's been an exhausting weekend, but great fun! Really enjoying my time at PAX. Aight, you'll hear from me again soon! Thanks for reading if you got this far!
Today was the first day of PAX West 2017, so I thought I'd chronicle how the day went! I'm going to keep this short, since I'm kinda tired.
Woke up at 6am to get ready, pack, and catch a 8am bus to the Washington State Convention Center. Arrived at WSCC at around 9pm and got into line. Caught some interesting graffiti while I was there:
Couldn't agree more, anonymous chalk message.
Aaaand we're in! Naturally, the first thing I run to is the Nintendo booth:
Impressive booth! And the line wasn't too bad, either! About 20 minutes and we were in. Got to play Super Mario Odyssey. Now let me tell you -- this game's controls were AMAZING. I played the desert stage, up until the first green moon atop this tower past the little desert town. The game is a true sandbox, meaning you can choose to do things as you please. Scattered across the map are checkpoint flags that act as fast travel points you can return to at any time. The penalty for death is only a meager 5 coins before you're returned to your last checkpoint. Naturally, the demo had no form of "lives." Throwing Cappy is super intuitive -- just shake the joycons and away he goes! There's also a form of auto-targeting so Cappy will automatically target points of interest (objects, platforming elements, enemies, etc.). When you throw Cappy at an enemy, you possess that enemy immediately. I really like how simple everything is, but also how much freedom the simple controls give. All your normal platforming skills are there -- long jump, triple jump, backflip, etc. along with a couple new maneuvers with Cappy and a ground pound jump where after you ground pound, if you immediately jump, you can leap high. At any rate, it was a fantastic experience and it just gets me even more hyped! I didn't get to try out the New Donk City stage since that would've required me to get back in line, so I explored the rest of their booth.
They had Fire Emblem Warriors, Pokken Tournament Deluxe, FIFA 18, and BA 2K18 playable on Switch. For 3DS, they had Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions and Metroid: Samus Returns. Of these, I tried out Fire Emblem Warriors. I was never into the whole Dynasty Warriors/Hyrule Warriors gameplay, and from all I can tell, Fire Emblem Warriors is pretty much Hyrule Warriors with a Fire Emblem skin. Exactly what you'd expect. Not a Metroid fan (gasp?) so didn't stop to try Samus Returns. There was a stage there where an announcer was holding 1v1 Pokken Tournament DX battles with random passerbys he'd pick from the crowd. There was quite a sizeable crowd, but unfortunately it completely blocked the flow of traffic in the middle of the showfloor, haha. But people were cheering like heck and having a good time, so all's good!
I walked to a little-trafficked corner of the showfloor next where Capcom and a few others were. There was that new Dragon Ball game there, and Capcom v. Marvel, but nothing I was interested in. Most of the booths and activities here were seemingly going to open later, and there was a large stage that was mostly empty but had computers set up in an eSports style, so I assume there was some kind of tournament here later.
Next up, I went to the Square Enix booth!
The very first thing I stumbled across were some Nvidia-marked laptops running Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition.
Now this is a game I'm really looking forward to! FFXV is a game I've wanted to play since I first heard about it back in 2013, but alas, I had no PS4 or Xbox One to play it on. Now that it's coming to PC, you can bet your ass I'll be pre-ordering this immediately. It looked and played really nice. The keyboard/mouse controls were kinda weird, tho, and felt kinda odd. I think I'll definitely have to remap them later to something a bit more intuitive.
And then I found this little thing!
This is Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition! Got to play it for a bit. I'm surprised! It actually doesn't look too bad! It's everything it's advertised to be. I don't think I'll play it, just because I rarely play games on my phone, but hey, it's a small, quirkly little thing that no one asked for but that I don't mind existing. It's gonna be episodic and the first episode is going to be free. Give it a try when it comes out!
Around the Square Enix booth, there were gameplay demos of most of the titles you saw on those banners in my earlier picture. Off the top of my head, there was FFXIV: Storm blood, Dissidia, Secret of Mana, Lost Sphear, and some of Square's mobile Final Fantasy games, like Brave Exvius and Mobius FF. Secret of Mana is a 3D remake of the old NES classic and it looks great! Lost Sphear has a curious name, but I get the same vibes from it that left me unmotivated to play its predecessor, I am Setsuna. Overall, not a bad showing from Square.
I mentioned Life is Strange, and by that, I specifically mean the new prequel, Before the Storm. I attended the developer panel for this event next. At the panel was the lead writer, a developer at Deck Nine Games, and a member of a studio partnered with Deck Nine (Deck Nine is the studio contracted to make this LiS prequel, btw, and they are a different company than DontNod, the folks behind the original LiS). I really enjoyed this panel! The devs talked about the process of making this game and the challenges behind it, and then opened the floor to audience questions. The questions were quite insightful as well, asking about specific parts of the development process and about how narrative experiences across different mediums are produced. Solid.
Here's some pictures from that panel:
After this, we went and ate some food. There was a Subway nearby, so we picked up some sandwiches and headed down to Benaroya Hall, aka the PAX Main Stage, for a Panel/Q&A by JackSepticEye. I don't really watch his videos on YouTube, but his and Markiplier's panels are always hilarious, so I make sure to attend them.
We ate in their cafeteria space and then headed upstairs to queue up. There were a LOT of people lining up for this, as you can imagine. We were waiting there for a little less than an hour and a half. We were constantly being moved closer and closer to accommodate more people. Throughout all this, the PAX employees were going around playing games and giving people challenges to keep us entertained. Occasionally, they'd get a wave going and you'd hear random cheers erupt now and again. Good on them for making sure we weren't bored! Soon, we headed inside...
About 10 minutes before the show started, Markplier, Wade and his buddies came in a side entrance (to a lot of cheers, as you can imagine) and they took the front row, which was reserved for them and the camera/stage crews. Jack came on right on time and wasted no time getting to the Q&A. I shot some video clips of the whole thing, but I'd have to stitch 'em together into one video and upload them and I don't feel like doing that right now, so I'll share that later maybe if anyone asks for it.
Anyways, HILARIOUS show! Loved it. I'm not a fan of any of these guys and I don't know 'em very well, so I wasn't super hyped to see them or anything unlike literally everyone else there. I came for the laughs, and he absolutely delivered! 'Twas a great time.
It was 5pm by the time this ended, and the showfloor is open 'till 6pm, so we rushed back there to look around for another 40 minutes. The very first thing we did was this little Nintendo stamp hunt. Basically, they gave a card and you had to visit all their booths -- their showfloor booth, their stage, and their Nindies Arcade room and collect stamps. Get all three stamps and you get a Super Mario Odyssey poster! The poster's very big and shows the giant T-Rex from the E3 trailer possessed by Mario and rampaging about. Nice!
On our way to collect this poster, we came across this:
Ooh! The booth wasn't busy so I waltzed onto one of those stations and got to try some Sonic Forces. I've never been a Sonic fan and this game failed to hook me, but if you want an accurate description of it compared to the other *decent* 3D Sonic games, I'd say it's just more of the same.
At PAX West, there are three major showfloors. Two of them house mostly AAA games and the third houses mostly Indie games. We only covered one of the two AAA showfloors, so we went to the second. First stop -- Bethesda! We just looked around since we didn't have much time before the showfloor closed. Saw some booths for Fallout 4 VR and Doom VR. Definitely gonna try those out tomorrow! There was a big crowd gathered for a raffle so we couldn't see the rest of their big booth. Moving on, we came across a guy chucking mouse pads from a booth titled "Survived By." Never heard of this game in my life, but hey, free mouse pads! We quickly glossed over Xbox. Saw Cuphead, Sea of Thieves, and other titles. Will come back to those later.
The last stop on today's journey was Sony's booth.
I didn't know what to expect, but once we got there...
KNACK 2 BAYBEE
Oh my god, this game shouldn't even exist, it's that good, it pushes the envelope of every genre -- first person shooter, mobile puzzle, free to play MMO, extreme racing, JRPG, flight simulator, you name it
You will never play a game this good for another decade until Knack 3, I promise you
The future is upon us
Truly a momentous time
And it's there, reveling in what we just witnessed, that we ended our first day of PAX.
Hey, y'all! Would appreciate it if you took a gander there at my Steam profile! Spent a lotta good hours makin' it look guud ;D
Please tell me what you think! (mainly, the gifs! those took a while to make!)
Hey, so I just ordered a couple of Xbox 360 games from Amazon that I had missed out on last gen. As I wait for them to arrive, I decided to power on my old Xbox 360 and see where I had left this machine off. I played some Assassin's Creed 2 (great game), and when I was done, I went back to my library and rested my eyes on... Skyrim.
Okay, so story time!
Skyrim came out in 2011. I was 11 then. Skyrim was all the buzz, and so I looked it up. I didn't really get it, and I had never played a game like it before. I saw "Elder Scrolls V" and I thought, "huh, there must be four others. The mythos looks so cool..." For some reason, I was so compelled, I just had to get this game! I asked my dad aaaaand... nope. I wasn't old enough. It was too violent for me, he said. As the months passed and the release date rolled around, I read a review. It described this amazing game that seemed to promise this grand adventure, and to me, that starry-eyed 11-year-old, I was dazzled. I read about how you could climb a giant mountain of 7,000 steps and travel the breadth of a whole country and fight dragons. I watched a video, and I saw five minutes of riding in a cart (the opening)! That amazed me! I had never seen a game that was so realistic! Normally this cart ride would've been some cutscene and then it would drop you somewhere else, but no! You got to ride in it all the way! No, this was an entirely new experience. Never before had I seen a game so immersive and realistic.
As the months passed, a friend of mine told me about how he heard that you could do all kinds of crazy things in Skyrim, like ride a dragon or shout at people with a Fus-Ro-Dah and blow them up into the trees. The things he was describing were just these amazing stories where it seemed like you could do anything! I read an article one day in the Wall Street Journal (delivered daily to our doorstep!) that talked about how you could do anything, be anything, even buy a house and marry someone. Another article talked about how a player completed Skyrim without killing a single person. That was unheard of for little ol' me!
Now, we have this group of family friends. There's other children, and they're mostly my brother's age (3 years younger than me). They must've been 8 or 9 years old when Skyrim came out. When we'd have gatherings, I would sit them around me and I would tell these fantastical stories of me playing Skyrim. At this point, I had never played Skyrim, not even once, but I started making up stories about Skyrim just based on all these fantastical things I'd been hearing! I'd tell them, "I entered a town and this guy told me to go to the king, so I went and he told me to do something, but then I just killed him! And then I killed his guard and everyone around, and then I did the thing he asked me to and killed the guy he wanted me to save!" Mind you, I had never played this game in my life, ever. I didn't even know you could wantonly kill any NPC! I was literally making all this up! I would come up with the most outrageous stories of this game I had never played, and I made the kiddos laugh like nothing else, all from the notion that I could be anything, do anything. Oh man, my surprise later when I realized that all these fantastical stories could actually be done in Skyrim!
It's 2013 now. My birthday rolls around, and my friends give me a couple of Amazon gift cards. As I'm deciding what to get, Skyrim suddenly comes to mind. Oh, but phooey! Dad won't let me buy it! ...Aha! I come up with a scheme! Instead of asking for Skyrim, I would ask for Microsoft Points and then buy Skyrim from the digital store! Wahahahaha! I do just that. Spending $50 of my Amazon dollars on Microsoft Points, I buy Skyrim when no one was around and secretly download it without anyone knowing. One hour passes... two hours... This is gonna take a while. I leave it to download overnight, and when I wake up the next morning, it's done! Alright, now to wait for dad to leave for work and mom to head off somewhere with my brother... One hour... Two hours......... Game on.
I click the "A" button as my selection rests on Skyrim... Finally... The Bethesda logo splashes. Title screen. Ohh buddy... New game..... "Bethesda Game Studios Presents" ... "The Elder Scrolls V" ... "Skyrim." A chill goes down my spine. The game world fades into view. I'm on the very cart I gawked in wonderment at two years ago.
Skyrim was a pipe dream come true. 13 years old now, it was everything I ever wanted in a game. I literally felt limitless... It was amazing, a feeling unlike any other, and something that no other game has ever been able to capture for me. I was young. Aside from Halo: Reach, this was the only other M-rated game I'd ever played at that point. I loved every second of it. I was in awe of the flora all around, the animals and the trees, and my god, the mountains... I'd spend dozens of minutes just sitting on the couch, staring up at the mountains. It was in front of Whiterun, Honningbrew Meadery. I leave the meadery and the Throat of the World appears, towering above me. Far, far above me. I sit. I stare. I marvel. It was a feeling unlike any other. Sitting there on that couch, right then and there, I told myself, I want to make something this beautiful.
Right then is where I began, where I set out on the journey I'm on now. That is when I decided... I want to spend my life making video games.
If you look at the title I set for myself, it's "~Apprentice Game Designer~." For the last four years, I have been trying my best to learn how to program and how to design. This is what I want to do, this is my dream. And this all started on that couch... Playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I have an unpaid debt to that game, to Bethesda, to Todd Howard, and everyone there. Their game gave me a direction for my life. When I had a strong enough PC, I bought Skyrim again on there, but sitting down right now, booting up my old 360, it brought back those memories of where I started all this. I really wanted to write down my thoughts, so I'm putting them here. Hopefully I can look back at this one day or point others here, so they too can know where I started. Thank you for reading.
So, schools out for the summer. Though I don't feel any different. I don't have some sense of, "Oh hey, I'm off the hook from all work now." Might be because I'm gettin' older. Instead of going to high school, I've been taking classes at a local college instead, which means I usually have a lot of free time. When you're used to a more relaxed schedule, the novelty or excitement of summer break really just dies. Instead of goin' wild like some of the other kids, I'm planning on finding a job, doing a lotta game design study/practice, and continuing whatever computer science things I started last summer. I actually find the task of filling up free time daunting. I don't like free time, because I know that for me, free time just becomes wasted time.
Oh and hey, first blog post~