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PAX East 2015


Black Six

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I had the pleasure of going up to PAX East in Boston, Massachusetts from March 6th to 8th. As always, it was a blast and it was great to hang out with Than the Moa and Watashi Wa and meet a couple of WaWa's friends. I thought for a change I'd endeavor to take some more pictures and blog about it and share some of my experiences.

 

The Lines

PAX East is famous for its massive lines for everything. When you cram 70,000 or more people into a single space, you're going to have to wait for stuff. It's not unusual for people to line up for panels over an hour in advance, and lines to play popular upcoming games like Overwatch take two hours or more. With the lines being such an iconic part of the event, I decided that would be the focus of what I share. If you follow me on Twitter you probably saw some of my tweets rating the lines and sharing pictures. Below is a little more of the same, but not constrained to 140 characters.

 

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I was able to snag a Media badge for the event, which meant Friday morning I got to wait in the very short Media/VIP line. By PAX standards it was pretty tame, and meant I got to check out the show floor before most people. No regrets!

 

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Saturday, on the other hand, I had to line up with everyone else to get into the expo floor. The reason so many people line up is so they can rush in and get lined up for things like Oculus Rift, Gigantic, Overwatch, and other multi-hour waits. I was trying to line up for Rooster Teeth, but when I got to the booth they weren't even there.

 

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I didn't make the same mistake on Sunday and decided to wait and have some breakfast and not go into the expo floor until after the lines cleared. I snapped this from one of the catwalks that crosses the expo floor on the second level. Yes, there are a LOT of people...

 

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A much smaller and faster-moving line was the one to get swag bags. The bags were a bit disappointing this year, only containing the program guide, a deck of Magic cards, a promotional Superfight card, and some ads. Oh well.

 

Overwatch

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I definitely took advantage of my early media access on Friday by going to play Overwatch, the FPS being made by Blizzard. Yes you heard that right. The gameplay was tight and certainly seems like it's getting ready for release. I only played three or four of the different classes, and of those, McCree was by far my favorite. I'm intrigued to play more when it comes out.

 

Harmonix

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The day before PAX East started, they announced Rock Band 4! The game wasn't on display, but you could preorder an exclusive PAX East guitar controller, which I did. They also had Amplitude available to play, which was interesting, but I definitely need more time to really learn it, and not play with a group of people that cranked the difficulty up to expert.

 

Gabe and Tycho

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We caught part of the Gabe and Tycho panel where they basically spent an hour answering people's questions and making us all laugh. As the minds behind Penny Arcade and PAX, it's great to see that they stay so involved with their fans.

 

Rooster Teeth

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The reason we caught Gabe and Tycho was because we wanted to get good seats for the Rooster Teeth panel, which we succeeded at! The panel was pretty great and we got to see some awesome videos, including the Red vs Blue Season 13 teaser, a Minecraft Let's Play rap (the content of which isn't really BZP-safe), some rough work for the next season of X-Ray and Vav, and a hilarious Funhaus video. The Q&A sessions were a bit groan-worthy at times, but overall I had fun as always.

 

Rooster Teeth Line

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Of course I also wanted to go to the Rooster Teeth booth to buy some stuff and get them to sign other stuff. Any time Jack, Adam, and Jordan were there though, the line was super-long. I probably went by the booth fifteen times all told seeing if they were there, and if they were, trying to get in line. It was frequently capped though, and when I'd go back to see if it was uncapped I ended up missing the opportunity. Eventually I got in though, and scored some swag and got some signatures.

 

Halo Cosplay

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One time while I was walking by the Microsoft booth a group of Halo cosplayers had gathered. Those costumes are incredible and I wish I had the time and talent to make one of my own.

 

Major Nelson Radio

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Another staple of PAX East for me is the Major Nelson podcast panel. The whole crew was there, consisting of Larry 'Major Nelson' Hryb, Eric 'e' Neustadter, Laura 'lollip0p' Massey, and Jeff 'Jef United' Rubenstein. They were joined by Eric Pope of Harmonix to talk about Rock Band 4 and Jeff from Undead Labs to talk about State of Decay: Year-One Survival Edition. It was a great show and I definitely enjoyed it.

 

Halo Championship Series Season 1 Finals

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By a stroke of luck, after I finally decided to go to PAX East, 343 and ESL announced that the finals of Season 1 of the Halo Championship Series, the competitive Halo e-sports league, would be held at the event. I've been a competitive Halo fan since 2003 or 2004, so I was super-stoked by this. It had been a while since I had been to a LAN competition in person (honestly it has been a while since competitive Halo was really worth watching) so I made a point to watch as much of the event as I could. I was not disappointed, as the nine teams (top eight seeds and a wildcard from Europe) all put on a great show. The Losers Bracket Finals was quite possibly the best series I've ever seen in the history of the game. CLG went down 2-0 to Noble Black but then tied up the series at 2-2. Game 5 would decide the winner and who would go play in the championship match for a grand prize of $50,000. And then the two teams tied! The official rules stated that there would be a shortened replay of the game, in this case Shrine (Sanctuary) Team Slayer, but that ended up in a tie too. Long story short, the two teams tied four times total before CLG finally won to advance. The crowd at the event was massive and everyone was on the edge of their seat watching (if they had a seat - there were so many people it was standing room only). Even though CLG ended up losing to Evil Geniuses in the finals, it was amazing to be there in person and feel the energy of hundreds of other Halo fans all cheering when a sick play was made. It was definitely the highlight of my weekend and a memory I hope to never forget.

 

All in all PAX East 2015 was a rousing success. There were a lot of other things I did that didn't make it above, like Elite Dangerous with Oculus Rift, a bunch of indie games, the Harmonix party, and good times with friends. If you're a fan of gaming, I definitely recommend making it to a PAX event at some point, as they're second to none.

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