Penny Arcade Expo 2008Sunday August 31, 2008 - Author: NightStorm -
Amongst the chaos of the past few weeks, we (Tami and I) were given a chance this week to escape for a few hours as we travelled South to Seattle to attend Penny Arcade Expo 2008 (henceforth to be referred to as PAX, because my typing sucks and 3 letters is harder to screw up than 19).
My overall impressions on PAX this year was somewhat of a letdown. Having attended last years event, where the panels included discussions on Penny Arcade’s debut game (which was set to come out on xBox Live) held by Hothead Games, a discussion on the History Of Guild Wars, The Future Of MMOs (which covered a lot of what Guild Wars 2 would be about), and ArenaNet Culture And Origins, I was left with a feeling that something good had happened… I had learned a lot about the gaming industry, and felt confident in it’s future.
This year… where do I start? The PAX staff were, for the most part, a letdown. While some managed to remain civil and polite (even funny in a few cases), the bad seeds ruined the entire event for me. Some of them were rude, obnoxious, and in one case, an outright bitch. “Line up here! No, you can’t line up here, you’re blocking the lane… line up there! NO! DON’T LINE UP WHERE I JUST TOLD YOU TO LINE UP, THERE ARE PEOPLE WALKING NEAR BY! GO THERE INSTEAD!!” Not to mention getting pissed at attendees for, gods forbid, sitting on the beanbag chairs where the staff had put them, only to be told that you can’t sit there, you need to move somewhere else. Hmm… it was fine last year, and I don’t really know why someone coming down an escalator would need a full 40 feet of lane space in order to be herded down the next escalator (there was actually a woman at the event who’s job was to yell at people that the down escalator was the only way down, so that was where you had to go… you know, unless you wanted to attend a panel, or get in line, or go to the OTHER down escalator on the other side of the center…). The general feeling of the panel discussions was that I was being herded like a sheep to slaughter. We had to go and sit exactly where we were told to, no exceptions… if your husband, wife, or partner was in front of you and got told to sit at the end of a chair lane, tough luck for you sitting with them… you’re in the lane behind them now, at the far end of the lane. Argue or question? Get kicked out of the panel discussion. Even the ArenaNet staff were rolling their eyes at the “Enforcers”.
The panel discussions themselves, as well as the booth occupiers, were the only saving grace for this years event. Even some of the people were a prime example of what is wrong with the World (although that is to be expected… rude staff is unacceptable). Attending the panel discussion “Female Gamer Community” this year with Tami, I found myself disgusted with what I was exposed to. Hold on, don’t read into that wrong. I am one of those types that supports girls in gaming, and believes that yep, they are quite capable of kicking the ass of anyone else that faces them in-game, irregardless of gender. What disgusted me was not what was being said on stage or in the general audience… it was what was being said at the back of the group by a few guys who felt it necessary to fall into a typical chauvinistic elitist asshole stereotype… commenting on who in the panel was, and was not “hot”, among other comments best left unpublished. Apparently there are even some on the PAX discussion forum commenting on how they had to get away from the panel quickly, lest they loose their testicles. Idiots like that are a good enough reason for me to not want to visit that community, thanks. I would think those guys would be more concerned with getting their asses kicked repeatedly in-game by these girls, since that is the threat they face. In regards to the actual Panel Discussion, I think I’ll leave Tami to write about that on her site… I unfortunately came into the discussion 15 minutes late due to my need for Tylenol and food).
The Guild Wars panel was umm… short. It was 90% a question/answer session, and didn’t touch GW2 very much due to the “secrecy” they are now operating under. While I focused on what was being said by the Panel, Tami was unfortunately forced to listen to some guy sitting on the sidelines (apparently another wonderfully trained Monkey brought on to be PAX staff) openly commenting on the responses and criticizing the panel as well as how they spoke. Nothing better to do with his time, other than bang on that keyboard hoping for Shakespeare, I guess. Chris (the Marketing Head) mentioned that they have entered into a 3 book deal for Guild Wars, which is set to focus firstly on what takes place immediately after GW1 (basically, the books are meant to fill the void of 250 years between GW1 and GW2). We got to hear a bit about the original concept art for GW (yep, every single thing we see in Guild Wars is started off as concept art), and how ArenaNet supports in-game Guild-hosted events and actually does follow them.
Wandering the floor, I was absolutely blown away by 1 game at the NCSoft booth. This game was phenomenal. Much like Guild Wars in the concept sense (although one of the staff did point out that this game is more story-driven than quest-driven), the graphics were amazing. Initial features of the game that jumped out was, of course, the graphics, but also the ability to customize your character completely. Every single facial and body detail was editable, allowing for you to finally create a full physical avatar of yourself for in game. Now, I must simply wait for release… which can’t happen until they decide HOW they plan to release it, and what sort of subscription system they plan to use, if any. So yeah, the game is amazing, but it could be a long time before we get to actually see it. What’s it called? Aion. Watch for it.
Overall, if not for the PAX staff and long lines for little fulfillment, PAX 2008 could count as a decent event. Unfortunately, those two things really ruined it for me.
And besides, why hold a panel discussion for Hothead Games (the developers of the Penny Arcade video game) 2 hours after all the exhibit booths have closed up and people have been told to get out? Where’s the logic in that?
I started this post by saying we were given the chance to escape. Unfortunately, the only escape we got on this trip was when we got out of Washington and back into our own Country.
On a side-note, I finally started to process some of the video that was shot while the Mendella crew were here visiting… with that, I give you a small sample… Mendella Invades the 2008 Abbotsford International Airshow.