So by now, you get the gist of what happened at PAX East. Guys like Arctic Fox, Kauza and Analoge have already weighed in on the important stuff, so Iím just going to leave a few thoughts here.
Win: Monday Night Combat One of the highlights of the expo hall, Mega Entertainmentís class-based shooter earned a lot of fans with its playable demo on the floor. Monday Night Combat is one impressive mashup of a game, combining the class-based team warfare of Team Fortress 2 with the game physics of Unreal Championship and the slick, corporate-sponsored backdrop of Smash TV and The Grid. My chief concern for this game is that heavy online play will lead to the discovery of game-breaking strategies- it took nine years to properly balance Team Fortress 2, and Uber Entertainment is planning on having Monday Night Combat up and running on Xbox Live Arcade before the year is out. Still, the demo was a solid, fast-paced bulletfest, and if the game comes anywhere close to realizing its potential, itíll become the darling of Xbox Live.
Fail: Lack of cosplayers Maybe it was the horrendous weather, but there werenít as nearly wild costumes as I was hoping to see. What few that I saw were really good- but overall, Iím hoping to see a lot more familiar faces at PAX East 2011. Iíve got every intention of dressing up myself next year- I just donít know who itíll be yet. (Iíd love to be Mordecai from Borderlands, if I can pull it off.)
Win: The Rock Band Lounge Nicole and I spent hours and hours in this one place alone, and we could have hung out here for the whole con. Harmonix created the perfect party lounge for the perfect party game, with a shining stage, professional-level equipment, a black-lit, spacious dťcor, plenty of free swag and tag-able walls, tables, and countertops. It was exactly the kind of experience that, frankly, I was expecting out ofÖ
Fail: Gamers Gone Wild So, this was much ado about nothing. I waited in line for nearly an hour for this event at Lir, and what I got was simply a crowded basement packed with a smattering of gaming consoles- hardly the party I was prepared for. The Rock Band tournament was filled by the time I got inside, and the only real fun to be had was on the upper floor, which was VIPs only. Super, super lame.
Win: THE POWER GLOVE They marveled at it. They shouted slogans at it. They begged for pictures of it. They wanted to know where to get one for themselves. In 2010, the Power Glove is stillÖ
Win: Twitter and my Samsung Bonk Twitter was once described as the tool we didnít realize we needed until we had it. For me, this weekend proved it. Getting up-to-the-second updates about Dtoidís goings-on kept me connected to the community, and a second-hand look into some parts of the con I can only dream about getting into. Honorable mention goes to my little Intensity cell phone, which, due to its wallpaper and text alert sound, I have lovingly dubbed the Samsung Bonk. As my makeshift camera and connection do the Dtoid community, it served me beautifully. And to think I was going to trade one in for a Blackberry- the keyboard on that thing would have given me some very inconvenient thumb cramps. Protip: If you have text messaging, you can get Twitter feeds. Text 40404 for more information.
Fail: Lines, Lines, Lines. The last time I attended the Hynes Convention Center was for Anime Boston in 2008. The line for registration on both days stretched through the entire convention center and at one point had a maximum wait time of 10 hours Ė longer than the convention would be open for the day. I was a volunteer that year, and had the somber duty of telling people that there was simply no room at the inn. It was one of the most grating experiences I ever had to go through.
Between this experience and my time at PAX, I am now convinced that cons should stop trying to cram so many freaking people into the Hynes Convention Center. Itís a nice place. Its rooms and halls are attractive. Its accessibility to hotels and restaurants is exemplary. Itís generally a good place to put a convention of any kind. But, itís small. Itís compact. Itís cramped. There was only so much room to put everyone and everything, and thus, there simply werenít enough events and attractions to give 60,000 people everything they wanted.
Thatís right. Sixty thousand people packed the cozy, 193,000 square-foot confines of the Hynes this weekend. Itís a miracle nobody was trampled. (In comparison, Otakon routinely gets 22,000 a year, and not only fills the 1,255,000 square-foot Baltimore Convention Center, but had to spill over into the nearby First Mariner Arena). This was a ludicrous amount of people to even begin to manage, and it showed all over the place. There were lines for waiting in lines. There were people turned away from the 8:30 concerts at 7:15. There was an hour-long wait to get your hands on a controller in the console freeplay room. I can appreciate that the clearly overworked staff were doing the best they could with the situation- and they did so with grace and good humor- but attempting to get anything or go anywhere in this overpacked convention involved a great deal of patience and fortitude.
This, of course, leads me right intoÖ
Win: PAX East 2011: BOSTON CONVENTION CENTER! PAX East attracted more than twice as many people as they planned for. In response, theyíre moving to a place more than twice as big. The Boston Convention Center (516,000 square feet, since weíre keeping track) isnít in the heart of the city like the Hynes, but the breathing room, the expanded selection of panels and events, and a game room that will hopefully challenge Otakonís hangar-sized version will be more than worth it.
Fail: My ability to remember names and faces. ďHey, JT!Ē
ďItís me, Arctic Fox, weíve met like twice already.Ē
ďOh! HehÖ hi!Ē
ďIím not Samit, heís sitting right next to me.Ē
ďOh! Um, hiya, Samit.Ē
And so on. Iím getting better, I promise!
Win: The Destructoid Community You guys turned a good time into a great time. I wouldnít have had nearly half as much fun if I didnít run into BunnyRabbit at the food court, or meet Arctic Fox at the expo, or watch Cataract hold court at Street Fighter 4. The highlight of my weekend- my whole weekend- was Saturday night, when about 50 of us descended upon an unsuspecting Uno Chicago Grill just off of the convention center for a night of beer and happiness. Dtoiders took over the entire lounge half of the restaurant, packing the place from front to back. It was a thing of absolute beauty. We met, we networked, we chatted about video games and nonsense, we made plans for the future. For the first time since signing up with this outfit, I truly felt like I was part of the community, and not just on the outside looking in. For that, Iím grateful to all of you guys.
I met a lot of fantastic people this weekend, and Iím almost afraid to try and name people out of the fear I might leave someone out. But, special thanks go to Arctic Fox, Jon Bloodspray, Funktastic, Adam Dork, Topher Cantler, Samit Sarkar, powerglove, DanlHaas, IcarusKills, Senisan, Cataract, CasualWeaponry, Necros, Zen Albatross, Tino, walkyourpath, Oh! The Humanity and especially BunnyRabbit2 for being so friendly and hospitable; to Greks224, Nick and Matt for being excellent roommates, and Gaping Maw for putting me in contact with Greks and making this whole trip possible. Iím happy to have met all of you, and Iím looking forward to spreading the Dtoid gospel to my friends back home.
Me with new Dtoid member Nanashi- AKA, my girlfriend, Nicole!