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Grab your bag, grab that swag it’s PAX east time!

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March 29, 2013 by kazmakid

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The first time you ride a bike, the first time you meet a best friend, or even having that first kiss in a circle of friends out in the schoolyard. My first PAX show is now thrown upon that list of unforgettable memories…

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For those of you who know what PAX is you can go ahead and skip this part but for those who are wondering what the hell I’m talking about allow me to give you a brief background about the many wonders and adventures that is PAX, more specifically PAX east. About 9 years ago the geniuses at Penny Arcade decided to create a sacred show. With the prospect of focusing on creating an exclusive gaming event, PAX was born, and year by year the crowds and excitement flourished. With panels, big and small game developers, and passionate gaming fans PAX placed its name on the high score board with GameCon and BlizzCon. PAX continues to prove itself as one of the most interactive and hyped events of the gaming world. If you wish to read more check out the PAX website. http://east.paxsite.com

PAX has become a great medium for the small and large. From major companies such as Bethesda to the two man team, indie developers, PAX becomes a prime forum to “/flex” what gaming innovations developers have to offer. A combination of the friendly indie developers who crave your insight on how their game speaks to you, to the large stage events that swallow you up whole.

Do not forget the FANS! People of all ages, all genders (yordle included), coming together in a friendly atmosphere, with one common interest of gaming. No judgments, no trolls, just one communal sanctuary for thousands of gamers. Now obviously TPG set out to find some of the best fans and we have discovered some pretty serious offerings:

Image(Hard to look tough in a tie…)

Image(Hit a bullseye with the Pit costume)

Image(Jayce and Caitlyn know how to look “drop-dead” gorgeous)

Image(Why…so…serious)

Image(Taric–diamonds are forever…and so is this bag of swag)

We at TPG made it our mission at PAX to find the best of the best. Now trust me this was extremely difficult considering there were some amazing projects and events to be seen. This was also difficult considering I would sometimes be lost in a world of fantasy and amusement setting aside what I came to PAX to do. But, by the end of the day I found what I believed were the top superlatives for PAX east.

TPG PAX east—TOP PERFORMERS:

The “LOOK AT ME!!” award: Riot Games—now I would have to first mention there were a ton of great displays, stands and overall setups, but when you are looking at the best of the best you know Riot is going to kill the nexus on this one. Incredibly exciting, giving you a feeling like you just stepped into a North American LoL finals arena. Easy access, engaging hosts, large clear display screen, Riot made this category look like playing easy bots. While watching a 12 year old compete, and literally destroy, a team of Riot employees in a community vs Riot LoL game, I was captivated by the amazing lifelike champion statues, and vast spectator screen. What was even more amazing was the idea that LoL is easily a highly anticipated star at PAX. With so many adoring crazed fans, the setup that Riot provided made it easy to get a good view at what was being offered. No long lines or confusing entrances, just a big stage that hugs the crowd with beautiful LCD screens. Awesome job all around, you clearly know how get that Riot started!

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The “YOUNG PRODIGY” award: Secret Ponchos by Switchblade Monkey—Will Smith would rap to this beat. Welcome to the wild wild west, where the orgy of a MOBA, street fighter and a gun slinging western have produced a genius and innovative game that goes by the name of Secret Ponchos. My first impression of this game was actually quite skeptical. I had heard little about it from forums and when first played felt the controls were a little bit slippery and hard to manage. However, as I played and talked with a developer I found myself learning what the masterminds at Switchblade Monkey had created. This is really just something new to the gaming world. A sexy, badass, artistic looking game, Secret Ponchos play style is quick and addictive. With a variety of characters, and archetypes, strategic team dynamics become endless. I highly recommend checking this game out! Throw some rattlesnakes in yer boots, grab a “partnah” and get ready for a serious western shootout! http://secretponchos.com

It’s kinda like:

MOBA +ImageImage

The “WE ARE THE SMARTEST ONES HERE” award: I was really looking for something to open up a new door in the gaming world, something that would be not only stimulating but also ingenious in its game design. Let me tell you, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Tiny Brains by Spearhead was the smartest game at PAX, no pun intended.  It really offers something everyone can appreciate. By bringing together the concepts of thought provoking and cooperative gameplay, Spearhead opens up the gaming world to a wider population. To explain this game in text would do it a great injustice but to give a brief overview; the game involves 4 critters with 4 unique abilities. You and your critter comrades must work together to fight through mazes, enemies and a mad scientist who is hilarious and freaky. I love this games beauty. It uses colorful animations with a cartoonish looking character design to combine fun, teamwork and a dash of competition. It stretches the scope on cooperate play games and sets itself at a difficulty that is enjoyable for your hardcore gamer, and playable for your little brother. As said by one of the head developers, “it’s a great game to play with your girlfriend, your buddy and your buddy’s girlfriend.” I don’t know exactly how the scientists at Spearhead did it, but they definitely topped Einstein in finding the formula for smartest game.

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The “BLOOD FLOWING, MIND BLOWING” award: This one was easy, or at least Bethesda made it look that way…Standing firmly next to the highly anticipated Blizzard section, the new Bethesda Elder Scrolls Online looks nothing less than incredible. It was clear; THIS was worth every second of line waiting. Bethesda went IN with this. A giant overhead screen, with an amazing HD trailer had a sea of gamers drooling. I was so taken by how good this thing looked that I even watched it twice. I literally felt like grabbing the child next to me and yelling “FUS RO DAH!” in his face. I was never even an elder scrolls fan but this thing got my heart pumping.  The dark stand was covered with hidden treasures of swords on the wall and a creative sneak peak beta playroom. I have tons to say about the potential of this game but I feel its best to leave that to the true Elder Scroll fans. All I can truly say is if you haven’t seen this game, do yourself a favor and check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XH9fCA3dmGc

The “SHARPEST TOOL IN THE SHED” award: Before the idea of using a map came to mind, I wandered aimlessly like a lost child looking for the Razer stand. To my own foolery I realized the Razer stand was literally all around me. Most stands used Razer keyboards, a Razer mouse, and soon I realized this truly was the best brand of gaming equipment that was at PAX. A personal favorite was the “Black Widow Ultimate Mechanical keyboard.” This thing feels powerful and looks pretty magnificent. It takes a little time to get use to the idea that it only takes a light click to fire the key button, but once you get use to the smaller high button design, you truly understand why it is rated one of the most desirable keyboards out there. Props to Razer for not only looking sharp but bringing the best of the best to the gaming equipment world.

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(Dewey didn’t appreciate my “getting weird with it” Shaco play style at the freeplay section of PAX)

Now like anything, there were some disappointments (which I say lightly). Besides the huge disappointment of not getting a picture with the famed gamer girl MelonieMac, I found one universal disappointment among the crowd. Among the many events at PAX one specific hype had me and many Blizzard fans really excited. Blizzard had announced they were going to release “something unlike they have ever released before.” Some were extremely excited, others doubtful, but nonetheless at 10 a.m. Friday morning Blizzard had its panel to release its new…online card game?! (queue sad trumpet noise). Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is the new Blizzard game that uses a board down view of an MTG style online card game. Now I will say, I love Blizzard, and as much as I wanted something comparable to WoW, StarCraft or even Diablo, that realistically is just not gonna happen…at least not yet (*cough cough “Titan Project” cough*). With the amount of projects Blizzard has lined up I believe its safe to say this is not Blizzard’s ace card. Furthermore, before I took a disgusted gasp and walked away with a tear down my cheek, I decided to talk one on one with some of the people who were playing the game. To be honest, I got plenty, if not most people saying although they were disappointed they actually enjoyed the core Warcraft lore, and felt happy with a casual competitive card game.

Image(Some couldn’t handle all the excitement–blacked out from too much PAX)

On a better note I was really impressed with how much I got to play and test out. Along with the satisfaction I got from the amount of games I got to put my hands on, I also loved how enthralled developers were in their fans reactions. I’m specifically talking about Broken Crown Games, which took it to the next level of becoming a real crowd pleaser. BCG had an on-site motion animator that would use PAX east volunteer movements in their next Sci-fi RPG. After speaking with one of the co-founders of Broken Crown Games, I understood their explicit focus on creating a game that involves serious fan contribution. Above all, I was impressed with how invested developers were in their quest to bring a truly great game to the public. They kept a solid outlook on bringing excitement and innovation to the gamers and not just keeping their pockets healthy with green.

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(This wasn’t awkward…I swear)

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(PAX enforcers–they look intimidating but actually did a great job of being friendly and keeping everyone happy)

Now some of you may know what PAX is but not fully understand why it is important. We love the hype, we love the games and all that PAX has to offer. Here’s the true fax about PAX…. As I left the large Boston convention center, with a bag full of goodies and heart full of ache, I thought deeply about the people I interacted with during the day. We all, or at least many of us, would love to be the next Riot or Bethesda, but what we genuinely want to do is explore a passion with a community that appreciates the painstaking efforts developers endure in order to share their artistic and unique games. At TPG we strive to look deeper into the games and our community. What I saw at PAX was astounding. I watched thousands of people waiting in lines picking up swag, all for a love of games. I saw something I never truly credited before. A symbiotic relationship between gamers and game developers, each feeding off the enthusiasm the other has to offer. Truly, one cannot live without the other, a relationship that has been established years ago in the days of Pong or Galaxia. This is a precious relationship that deserves recognition as both player and developer have created a community, a world, and a truly remarkable bond.

PAX east, I shall look forward till next time…until then, game on.

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