PAX East: Day Two
Seven in the morning comes awfully early when you’re up past midnight writing blog entries, but today of all days we couldn’t be late. Saturday is the day the press gets onto the exhibition floor early, and the crew was even going to let me tag along on an early interview with Tim Schafer. It was time to caffeine up, strap on my pants and take it like a man, and hey! Things were looking up! The rain had finally broken and the weather was actually quite temperate, at least for this denizen of the frozen wastes. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and Tycho’s signature was hung around my neck like a magic talisman. Today was going to be a-okay.
Sadly, the Tim Schafer interview was not to be. Apparently, he had consumed a waffle in the shape of a skull and crossbones for breakfast, and the resulting intestinal fury had felled the mighty giant. Alas and alack, and curse all poison breakfast foods! Our fated meeting with the main man of myth and mystery was simply not to be. Disappointment, heartbreak, my world an ocean of salty tears.
Tears that could only be quelled by sweet, sweet games. I was able to get some time with the demo for Child of Eden, the new game for Kinect from Rez–creator Tetsuya Mizaguchi. The game is a trippy swirl of water and flowers and psychedelic trance music, the perfect way to slow my caffeine-maddened heart beat. Afterwards, I dove into the long, incredible demo for Guild Wars 2. I’m going to leave that one in the capable hands of Jessica Richards, but suffice to say I was deeply impressed.
We stopped back at the Doublefine booth in hopes of getting some time on Trenched, only to be greeted by the sight of our prodigal curly-haired legend. Tim Schafer had returned! I dashed up the escalators to try and procure some Sharpie markers before we lost sight of him, but curse my legs! I was too slow, and when I returned he was gone again like morning dreams. The evasive Schafer had eluded me yet again! I fell to my knees in supplication. “Why?” I sobbed. “Why?!” Except when I said it there were a lot more ys at the end. I vowed that, by the end of the day, his signature would be mine.
LA Noire followed, a guided demonstration by the developers in their press theater. After a day and a half of madly dashing everywhere, the time off my feet was nearly as welcome as the game footage. Why haven’t we evolved to have padded-leather benches permanently attached to our butts? It would be so much more useful. Well, unless we had to walk through doors or something, but who does that?
LA Noire deserves some special mention. The facial animation in this game is really something to behold, and it’s literally everywhere in the world. The developers told us they had scanned in four-hundred separate actors just to provide faces for the random pedestrians. This bit of digital wizardry actually ends up being integral to the gameplay: the interrogation sequences actually require you to read the emotions of the digital actor you’re currently grilling. This title oozes charm, a slow, smoky, methodical mood-piece that starts in bits and slowly falls together to reveal a surprising whole. The devs didn’t want to spoil the whole case, but even with what we saw there was the sense of a big twist coming together. I’m really looking forward to this game; it looks like it’s going to provide the sort of hardcore, procedural crime investigation that I felt was lacking from Heavy Rain.
One more trip back to the Trenched booth, and this time success! Tim Schafer was there, I was there, my Sharpies were there, and together, the three of us could combine to make an incredible team. I just…wait, whose voice was that? Did I just talk to Tim Schafer? Oh no no no no, no I am not ready. What is he going to sign! Uh, there’s nothing in my bags but ads for other games. My netbook? No, he wouldn’t. Would he? Would I be a giant douchebag if I asked? I mean…he wouldn’t. Right?
Oh my god. Oh my god.
Ladies and gentleman, Tim Schafer has signed my netbook. I feel like all my life has been leading up to this moment. “Handmade by Tim Schafer.” Brilliant! And of course, his own sarcastic quip: “Sometimes even I’m amazed at the things I make.” Time needed to be made for ecstatic dancing.
After that I moved back up to the North Lobby. I was hanging around the Bioshock Infinite booth, waiting to meet a group of Bostonian friends for lunch, when I saw Robert Khoo, the man with the grand plan that expresses itself in the form and poetry of PAX. He was standing amidst the smoking, sold-out ruins of the convention’s upstairs mini-store. I stood and stared forlornly. The previous day, I had been stuck behind him on an escalator, and I had leaned forward to say something minor and congratulatory, “Hey man great con” or something stupid like that. He turned on me a gaze, a presence so laser-focused that I withered on the spot. This time, though, his assistant was there to mediate. He asked me what I was looking for, and I made some lame excuse about looking at prices and sizes and maybe I don’t know get an autograph from Robert Khoo but I guess it’s not important.
“Robert loves to sign autographs!” his assistant cried with glee. Robert’s anguished response: “I hate your face!
” But the man has grace, he has poise, and he has class, so his fingers signed the check his assistant’s mouth had so carelessly cut. By check, of course, I mean my badge, so now my glowing yellow passage to another world is host to the signature of both Tycho and Robert Khoo! Freaking yes.
He pulled me over to the corner of the mini-store and arranged a couple of the standing advertisements to shield him as he signed, but it was too late. For Robert all was lost as a giant group of fans descended upon him with slavering maws and eager pens. “Oh god no they found meeeeeeee!
” he cried as he was subsumed beneath a grasping pile of covetous geek hands. I tried to apologize, but it was too late. The damage was done. Robert Khoo was lost to us–or at least irreversibly delayed from his important tasks.
But hey! Now I have two illustrious Penny Arcade signatures on my badge. I hope that tomorrow I can track down Mike Krahulik. After all, gotta catch ‘em all, am I right?
Gotta catch ‘em all.