Another year, another PAX Australia, another gathering of gamers young and old, plain or fancy, coming together to celebrate the shared pastime of gaming by indulging in a copious amount of it. The first day of PAX is always overwhelming to the senses; the expo floor seems to become more grandiose every year, the indie showcase consistently grows both in size and quality. Cosplayers come out to display their oustanding, dedicated (or sometimes hilariously underdone) efforts, pro-level gamers show up in force to flex their gaming muscles. Above all else, there’s a cheerfulness to it all, a feeling of belonging that anyone who passes through the doors can easily slip into, like the warmness of an old friendship. As the tagline of PAX Australia itself says: “Welcome home.”
Before the day was even half over I was completely knackered, my fitbit informing me that I needed to calm the hell down with all the activity. “PAX Rising,” the indie showcase for the best indie titles going, was my first and last port of call for the day. Unloading my merch hoarding onto others that didn’t have interview commitments, I quickly set about talking to anyone and everyone that didn’t recoil at the wild look in my eyes, a microphone pointed determinedly at their face. After a long day of hoofing it around the expo floor, there was one thing that struck me over and over: Perth is absolutely killing it, man. Like an STI in a nightclub, but nicer and less rashy, we are everywhere on the show room floor.
On an expo floor that featured massive Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft, and several high-profile hardware manufacturer’s, the Perth indie dev’s shined brightest as being crowd favorites. Stirfire had a couple of Vive demo units showing off their VR title Symphony of the Machine, a weird and lurid experience based around the use of a ritualistic tower and lasers to restore a barren wasteland. Jacob Janerka’s Paradigm was there, a bizarre, highly-stylised, post-apocalyptic return to point’n’clicks that wants to take the humor of the classic genre to strange new places. BrambleLash was also present, seeing cooperation turn into bitter, resentful betrayal with a shiny, brand-spanking-new build of the game. These are just a few of the titles that come off the top of my head, but they are just a few of many.
Intervierwing a number of indie devs before the morning had even finished, I could already feel my energy waning. Tagging along with Nick to his interview with musician Mick Gordon was the point where I could feel that I was spent, and I mindlessly drifted through the rest of the day. Wandering aimlessly through the tabletop area, playing Dawn of War 3, and murdering monsters with friendly folks at the Nintendo area was what occupied the majority of my afternoon. Taking in the spectacle that was the Penny Arcade Quiplash event (which Ellis Longhurst will update you on shortly) was how I ended the day, and it’s been a good long while since I’ve had a belly laugh or ten like I did during that panel.
There’s still two more days of this event, so much more to see, and it would be impossible to tell all in a single post. I daren’t even try – PAX is an event that one should savor.
Thus concludes the day that Rebecca Black so famously auto tuned about in 2010- don’t you remember her catchy hit single “Day 1 of PAX”? And just like the song, I woke up way too early (6am flights, anyone?) and proceeded to feel spoilt for choice.
As usual, with all the new tech, AAA titles, panels, indie productions, eSports, board games, and gaming royalty on the show floor, PAX AUS was lit with opportunities. And as for the attendees, well, let me set the scene. Before the show floor officially opened, the hall (yes, an entire hall) that was dedicated to the queue to enter PAX, was full. And once the masses were allowed entry, the show floor was buzzing with excited developers showing off their wares to equally excited gamers. Organised excited chaos.
But fear not! Here at GameCloud, we don’t go rushing in blind (though I did rush in to play Blind)- us ones is professionals with our media God passes, shiny new business cards and lists of scheduled interviews. Knowing how fatigued I would be on days 2 and 3, I scheduled most of my interviews with developers for Friday morning and early afternoon (though this may be what will cause the fatigue… Such a paradox).
On a schedule-quiet moment, after purchasing two loaves of sourdough bread for $5 (what a bargain), I found my way to the main theatre for the first of two events at the Main Theatre. This is no easy feat when you’re laden down with so much free merch that you’ll have to buy another plane ticket to get it all home. The main theatre usually hosts panels or shows that are in high demand, so lining up early is a must. But if you want front row seats, my advice is to bring someone on crutches. Note to David: your ill-timed ankle sprain was a surprising blessing.
The first spectacle to which the audience was treated, was a Quiplash and Tee-KO battle (from Jackbox party pack 3) involving Kris Straub, Ryan Harmon, Jerry Holkins (better known as Tycho), Graham Stark, Paul Verhoeven, and Kathleen De Vere (who, conveniently, ran onto the stage AFTER all the jokes at her expense). There are few games that work well with 4 people or one thousand. Thankfully for the 950 participating audience members (in-house and on twitch), the Jackbox games can be counted amongst them. It produced gems like the idea to call a game of thrones-themed gym “The gains of Castamere” and the assertion that the U.S. Election is the equivalent of a dumpster fire.
The second spectacle was the PAX Food Fight 2. Last year, the PAX food fight was considered to be on of the highlights with attendees apparently asking “Sorry, what is this?” And “what is this actually?” (I stole that from the official PAX guide)
But really, I was asking that the whole time. And here’s why. Prior to Nich Richardson, Maude Garrett, Simon Hall (Yon from tripod) and Alanah Pearce, the host Tristan Lutze started frying bacon on stage to test how long it would take for the smell to fill the whole theatre. Cue one and a half hours of attempted cooking, wearing of rainbow sombreros, a nacho hat, Nich using an audience member’s belt to open a bottle of beer, and the statement “this is the best day ever. I’m firing Cheezles with a blowtorch.” I’ve never laughed so hard or seen so many occupational health and safety violations in a pseudo-kitchen. Lamb cutlets being breadcrumbed on the floor… Yeah, that happened. And audience members ate the final product. The whole thing was live streamed on twitch. Watch it!
FUN FUN FUN FUN. Looking forward to the rest of the weekend!
Disclaimer: I promise there will be no more Rebecca Black references… This year.
Ho. Ly. Hell.
I came here, cynical and dour, and now look who’s smiling. Can’t wipe the smile off my face today, especially when there’s so much to get excited over. Anyway, I can’t talk about everything, so let’s stick with the stuff that made me grin like a sloth with a set of monkey bars.
I talked about it last year, I’m talking about it again: Kieru. You’re either a white or black ninja, but the walls are black and white, so you have to conceal yourself against the walls. The game is genius, but a few things have been added since I saw it last year, including wall jumping and teleportation. If ever a game made me feel like a crazy ninja, it would be Kieru. Oh, and I managed to find a bug with the wall climbing, so that might have made me a tad OP. Good times.
Another eye-catcher of the day was The American Dream.. Anyone who’s been following knows I’m not a fan of VR, but what I played was ridiculous enough to keep me entertained. As a proud American, you go through the game doing ordinary tasks the only way worth your time. Using your twin pistols, you have to push buttons, punch holes through donuts, and anything else the average American does.
The other big highlight was Dawn of War 3. I’m not saying it’s good, but hot damn, it’s nice to see 40K back in the limelight. I mean, the animations were dumb as hell, and how was that a titan?! While we’re at it, why can the hero unit in terminator armour jump into the sky!? Anyway, doesn’t matter, there’s still time to fix everyting. Also, I don’t care, because HOT DAMN, IT’S 40K, ALL ELSE IS HERESY!