For those who didn't get a chance to make Penny Arcade's first international expo in Melbourne, here's a round-up of all the shenanigans - from the cosplay, to the indie games, tournaments, free-play areas, eccentric board games, concerts, and announcements.
By all accounts, the event was a big success, with a friendly, inclusive atmosphere, and lots of people urging you to get involved. Be it with video games, board games, card games, tabletop games, or just spectating. Pretty much all the panels were overflowing with people, and some cosplayers were in such high demand for photos, I would see them posing in the same spot seemingly hours later.
Here's a list of our coverage over the weekend, all sequential-like.
The event has only just kicked off — I’ve been here for less than two hours — but I thought I’d share what I’ve seen so far.
Wow. Once 10am rocked around, the expo hall of PAX Australia got busy. Real busy. The tide of bipeds was slow at first, steadily filtering between the booths like grains in a sand frame and just when you thought everyone was in, more bodies would deposit themselves around you.
I’m not sure if my post had anything to do with this, but after returning from the media room to the expo floor, I was greeted by the following sign.
Sorry for the almost one-liner — it’s not my usual style but I thought you guys deserved an update! Hopefully there will be a console in it next time I pass by.
I know what video game expos seem to the average internet denizen. They’re magical, far off places, where gamers mingle among their own. Game publishers and developers wage battles of publicity, vying for the attention of the masses. New gaming platforms are launched like the flagships of old, setting out to fight in the seemingly eternal Console War. To the designers, video game expos are an endless battle.
Situated not far from the entrance to the expo hall is Current Circus’ glittering booth for Muse, its gorgeous crack at combining calming exploration with music composition. In-between one of my many laps of the show floor, I spent some time chatting to the developers, getting familiar with the ins and outs of this quirky, yet fascinating title.
Late last year, we heard the inspiring story of Aussie indie Endgame Studios, one of many developers that suffered at the hands of the financial crisis and the vicious toll it took on the local industry. Yet, Endgame managed to not only survive, but adapt and thrive and is now riding the wave of its own creative hard work.
Here’s me doing my best Mark Serrels Oculus Rift impersonation. Yeah, it ain’t great, but hey, me at that point in time was standing in front of one of the more intimidating sights in next-gen gaming.
The indie game is, in the eyes of many, the last bastion of innovative gameplay. And for good reason: no triple-A company is going to risk throwing money at an untested game mechanic or idea without a serious amount of reassurance that it won’t all go down the drain. But to a team of just one or two people, you don’t need to sell a million copies for a game to be a success and this gives a lot more freedom to do what you want.
It always feels a little odd stopping someone in the middle of a crowd and asking if you can take a photo of them. At least at PAX, they know why you’re asking and you know why you’re asking, so that makes it slightly less strange. And I think I’d feel worse if I didn’t capture some of the excellent cosplay wandering the expo.
If you don’t know the name “Michael Shanks”, you probably know his pseudonym “timtimfed”. And if you don’t know timtimfed, you’ve almost certainly seen one of his videos. Perhaps it was Max Payne leaping towards his toaster, or a Skyrim adventurer freezing time to loot the bodies of his fallen opponents.
From the beginning, PAX has been a celebration of gaming culture — and not just the video kind. Set aside from the expo floor and the main theatres is the “Big Top”, where disciples of board, card and collapsing stacked blocks can seek refuge with their own kind (which includes myself).
I watch an anxious, yet enthusiastic Lance E. McDonald monitor expo-goers as they play Black Annex, his Syndicate-inspired and retro-styled strategy game. He keeps an eye out for bugs and other oddities, some the average player may never notice, but for a creator, they are unsightly blemishes, bordering on miniature disasters.
The last day of PAX Australia seemed to be a lot mellower than the first two days. The line to get in at the beginning of the day was smaller, the queues for food were actually reasonable and if you wanted to get into a panel… well, you still needed to be there half an hour early, but by today people had gotten used to that.