Wandering through PAX West 2018

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A week passed since attending PAX West 2018 in Seattle, a grand annual event for video and tabletop gamers. The memories of this annual event remains fresh.

The show was an overall blast, yet not the best attended over the recent years. The favored part was the significant rise in indie games pushed by smaller developers, looking to gain fame through playable demos and cheap giveaways. Also, plenty of merch sold at booths, especially pins. The gaming tech seemed plentiful, with plenty to demo and purchase.

The downside was the reduction in tabletop games. No large booths or big promotional events for any card or board games. Magic: The Gathering was hardly noticeable, compared to last year where Wizards of the Coast reserved an entire theater. I didn’t see any Cards Against Humanity promotion either, which felt like a bigger part of PAX from past years. I spent nearly all of my time with the video games for this round.

Meanwhile, much of gaming space on the exhibit floor was dedicated to the new trends in the video gaming industry – e-sports, streaming, influencer personalities, and the overall attention given to spectator aspects. Little of that appealed to me and felt like space that could have been utilized better. Whatever, as I do enjoy a Let’s Play or YouTube personality at times, just not here.

The company displays were a bit disappointing. No huge and ridiculous dioramas, or overly large statues or looming creatures. Just a lot of boring logos and posters in lights. I expect more from PAX, based on past years.

But overall, I still had a lot of fun and got all these pins (some purchased, some free)…

I did wander around for much of the time and took pictures. I share below some shots with more notes on the show…

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A typical view of a PAX West game booth, between the Ubisoft and Discord booths.

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The usual sea of computers for players to game together using the most updated gear. Here, Rocket League is still a thing among the big crowds, or not. It’s hard to tell.

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I didn’t see as much cosplay for this round of PAX. But, the Darksiders booth did step things up a bit with their own.

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Mega Man aims for anyone looking to cut in line to play the Mega Man 11 demo, which was about a two-hour wait. I went through it, and have to admit…it was worth it (and not just for the free pin).

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At the EV3A booth, and here…not sure what this is.

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Some cosplayers together,  geared and badass.

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Some Pyre cosplay. Pyre is a very underrated game. You should play it.

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One large booth premiering the upcoming Gris game in playable demo form, a fresh storyline based platformer with beautiful hand-drawn graphical elements.

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A stage tournament between two pros, locked in Dragonball FighterZ combat.

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Some sweet Splatoon cosplay.

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And a truly awesome Robotic Operating Buddy (or B.O.B), is the best (and only personally seen cosplay of its kind). Well done!

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An oddity I played at the Square Enix booth, The Quiet Man….a game where you play a deaf man in some urban drama. Interesting idea, but some very corner fighting reminiscent of the PS2 era.

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The Jackbox stage, where the play is both the audience and the entertainment, as one logs into the Jackbox website to participate, and engage in silly games.

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The developer crew of another indie title with its booth, The Messenger…a cool old school ninja-gaidenesque slashy platformer indie title. The crew was very excited to personally promote and share.

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Boyfriend Dungeon, a fresh oddity that combines dating with dungeon crawling. Weird dating games with an anime appeal are a rising trend now.

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One of the many panels attended, “We’re all Frauds! PAX West Edition,” with Doctor B [Clinical Director, Take This], Callie Holmes [Web Development Engineer II, Amazon], Tanya DePass [Founder, I Need Diverse Games], Matt Dolbill [Associate Attorney, Morrison & Lee LLP], Katrina Keller [Operations Director, Take This], Katie Golden [Producer, Bungie]. All here to discuss and advise on the problems of self-doubt in creative development ventures.

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Another panel, “(Re) Introducing Escapist Magazine: We Had Issues,” with Russ Pitts [Editor-in-Chief, Escapist Magazine], Graham Stark [President, Bionic Trousers], MovieBob [Creator, Freelance], Yahtzee [Critic, Escapist Magazine]. All here to promote the relaunch of the longtime game news site. I was especially excited to see Yahtzee, one of my favorite game reviewers (Zero Punctuation) present.

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The Guild Wars 2 booth, hosted by a large Griffon mount. I think this was the only mountable creature for this event. Last year, I recall at least five mountable statues.

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My Friend Pedro, another exciting upcoming game of interest at PAX West. This one a physics-based action based platformer that feels a little like a mix of Mirror’s Edge and Hotline Miami.

Maple Story had a huge booth promoting its sequel, Maple Story 2. The original was a cult hit a decade ago, and cool to see it still going and have a huge following here.

A neato life-sized diorama at the Facebook Games booth, promoting Stormland. Take a picture with you in it, then play another game there to receive a special enamel pin of a Facebook emote…yay.

Fortnite: Battle Royale is huge, and so was there silly miniature gold course which seemed as both a promo and reward for its growing fandom. I never played the game but had a blast here (and got a set of four free pins).

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And that was all PAX, in a nutshell, just a metaphorical golf course of one thing to another, amused by visuals and play.

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And that’s all for this year. I had some fun, but hoping next year is much better.

 

A Stranger Look at the PAX 10 of indie games for 2018

Soon, the PAX West show will return to the Seattle city for 2018. And within, are some new gems from this year’s PAX 10 lineup.

The PAX 10 is an annual list of industry chosen new indie games, earned approval as worthwhile to check out to all gamers. These interactive works add fresh and innovative elements in gameplay, have an interesting style, fun and sometimes weird. For both the PAX West and East shows, attendees can demo these games, with the developers usually present. Each annual list is special and inspirational for new upcoming talent, showing you need not big company brands to impress potential gamers. Just keep the player engaged with something original, engaging and fun. Others will notice.

For this 2018 run, here is the PAX 10 worthy of your attention:

Gunhead

Developer – Alientrap
Platform – Windows/Steam
Genre – Roguelike FPS
Website: www.alientrap.com

“Gunhead is a fast paced roguelike FPS where you take the role of a pirate mech with a gun for a head, looting derelict spaceships filled with monstrous drones made out of bone and steel. Sequel to Cryptark – Coming 2018.”

Personal Thoughts: The art style is beautiful and comic book cell-shaded. The overall feeling is a bit visual overload, but maybe that’s part of the fun.

Mirror

Developer – Ian Lilley
Platform – Windows / Linux
Genre – Puzzle
Website: http://www.mirrordropgame.com

“Mirror Drop is a psychedelic 3D puzzle game where you maneuver a reflective sphere in a world full of mirrors, over-saturated colors, and infinities. Each level contains three puzzles and a hidden exit, set against 100% raytraced alien geometry.”

Personal Thoughts: This looks trippy as hell, and could be more involving as a VR title.

DropOverload

Developer – Revival Productions
Platform – Windows / Mac / Linux / Xbox One / PS4 (Steam/Gog)
Genre – Shooter
Website: http://www.playoverload.com

:A new six-degree-of-freedom shooter from the creators of Descent with intuitive controls, amazing lighting and graphics, and the best zero-G robot-blasting combat ever devised.”

Personal Thoughts: Looks very polished, with a lot of added potential for VR.

Pizza Titan Ultra

Developer – Breakfall Inc.
Platform – Windows via Steam (Xbox One / PS4 Coming Soon)
Genre – Action
Website: www.pizzatitanultra.com

“Pizza Titan Ultra is a fast paced 3rd-person action platformer focused on fighting and smashing through a futuristic city, in a giant mech, to deliver pizza. Experience arcadey action with speedy attacking and dodging, but also attempting to control the massive weight of a 10 storey mobile pizzeria. Just try not to make too much of a mess.”

Personal Thoughts: I love this ridiculous premise, where Crazy Taxi meets Gundam. The mech designs are awesome.

Praey for the Gods

Developer – No Matter Studios
Platform- Windows
Genre – Action Adventure
Website: www.praeyforthegods.com

“Praey for the Gods is a brutal journey set on a desolate frozen island, where your only chance of survival is to destroy the very gods you believe in. In Praey for the Gods, you play a lone hero sent to the edge of a dying world to discover the mystery behind a never-ending winter. Arriving with only the clothes on your back, you must survive the colossal dangers that you encounter. To restore balance and reclaim the land from the brink, you will be faced with questions that not even a God knows the answer to.”

Personal Thoughts: A beautiful, story-driven game, where the play and progress is the exposition, driven by exploration and survival. As a big fan of the classic Shadow of the Colossus game, this excites me.

Retimed

Developer – Team Maniax
Platform – Nintendo Switch
Genre – Multiplayer Arena Shooter
Website: maniax-games.com/Retimed

“Retimed is a local multiplayer arena shooter for 2-4 players with slow-motion. It’s a combination of Super Smash Bros and the film Matrix. When an enemy bullet gets close to you, time slows down and a time bubble is created around the player. Now there is enough time to react and try to dodge the deadly projectiles. These time bubbles generate exciting alternations between fast-paced movement and tension-filled slow motion moments.”

Personal Thoughts: An interesting concept, which I think I would need to test before getting too involved.

Roundguard

Developer – Wonderbelly Games
Platform – Windows
Genre – Rogue-like
Website: http://www.wonderbellygames.com/

“A bouncy physics-based roguelite with a cast of oddballs, procedural dungeons, and lots of loot. Like if Peggle played D&D in the basement.”

Personal Thoughts: This looks fun. I like when RPG elements gets mixed into other genres. 

Shift Quantum

Developer – Fishing Cactus
Platform – PS4 / XBOX One / Nintendo Switch
Genre – Puzzle Platformer
Website: www.shiftquantum.com

“Axon Vertigo, the world’s leading authority and most trusted friend in cerebral contentedness programming, promises to deliver better life quality for everyone with the Shift Quantum program. Connected to the cyber-noir action-puzzle platformer, you will be task to solve puzzles and create negative space by inverting the world to transform barriers into escape routes. Shift the world, twist your environment, bend your mind to unveil its secrets and solve each brain-drilling level. Make use of all special gameplay blocks to overcome obstacles and get to the exit to find the happiness you have been searching for and promised by Axon Vertigo.”

Personal Thoughts: I like the customization feature, and would play it just to see what others would come up with. I like the style too, and hope there is a good story with that too.

Tick Tock: A Tale for Two

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Developer – Other Tales Interactive
Platform – Windows
Genre – Co-op adventure
Website: www.ticktockthegame.com

“Tick Tock: A Tale for Two is a co-op adventure where you and your friend get trapped by the skilful clockmaker Amalie Ravn. In order to escape you need to navigate a magical clock world filled with secrets and puzzles. The only problem is… neither of you have the full picture. Prepare yourselves for a narrative experience where your communication skills are put to the test. Read out loud to each other, discuss what you see, and combine the information on your two screens to get closer to the truth and your ultimate escape. Play on any two devices, local or remotely, all you need is a voice connection.”

Personal Thoughts: An interesting idea this is. I like it, but would need the right kind of person with a good attention span to take this seriously.

With Friends Like These

Developer – Shy Kids Club
Platform – Nintendo Switch / PC
Genre – Co-Op 2D shooter
Website: www.shykidsclub.com/with-friends-like-these

“With Friends Like These is a game that lovingly forces co-operation. Everyone on your home planet is super bored and over worked! So you and your bestie have decided to take everyone on a trip to Crazy Time Planet where everyone can let off some steam. Unfortunately, things go wrong and you crash into Super Chill World, your friends don’t realise they’re on the wrong planet and start to cause chaos. It’s up to you and your pal to collect up all your friends before they cause too much damage and drive the Super Chill residents insane.”

Personal Thoughts: Cute and weird, which the games industry can never have enough of. A game like this would work well in a video arcade cabinet, and I would spend the quarters for it.