Pax Day One
The first day of pax was interesting, mostly because it started off on a bad foot. I wrote about yesterday how I failed to charge my cell phone over the course of the previous night. The positive of that however is that I learned my power bank does a phenomenal job of charging phones, and by the time it took me to drive from the hotel to the convention center it was sitting around 63% from the previous 15%. Last year there was a plethora of parking options up and down Commerce and Market streets, but unfortunately yesterday every single lot had a full sign. I finally ended up parking in a surface lot, having to pay $20 for 8 hours. On the way to the convention I stopped and chatted with one of the attendants at the garage I parked in last year, just to find out what time of the day it actually filled up. Turns out that some other corporate event is going on downtown, and that a company had booked pretty much all of the city run garages, greatly reducing the amount of available parking space. She said that today they would be open again, so here is hoping that I can get into the garage I am used to.
As far as the day itself, it took a little while to connect with everyone. I met up with Dallian in this coffee shop area near a giant Pax South sign, where we milled around until we joined up with Paragon and Damai… and eventually Ashgar. Since we had not heard anything from Thalen yet, we wandered into the con and around the floor. All the while I was on lookout for trying to sort out where exactly my first appointment was. Turns out it was downstairs at the river level…. which is not something I even knew existed. The rooms down there were super nice however, and in truth I liked them better than the area the Motiga suite was last year. When I went to scope the place out I got nabbed by Deanna from Perfect World, and ushered into their room to hang out while waiting on time for my appointment. They had this really great spread of brownies and other pastries, but unfortunately… I had just eaten a large breakfast at the hotel thinking it might be awhile before I found food on the con floor.
I will of course be writing a proper piece for MMOGames.com once I have more stable internet, but I still wanted to talk a little bit about it this morning. I have to admit I was not really sure what to expect from all of the press announcements leading up to me actually getting to test it. I had a basic idea that it would be a top down shooter, but I was not really certain past that. I turns out that the game as a whole is a love letter to the twin stick shooters of the past, updated and infused with modern gameplay mechanics. So in my head it feels like Ikari Warriors meets Diablo meets some almost MMO mechanics. When the game is finished it will include three mechs that have specific niches, and in the discussion they mentioned tank/healer/dps holy trinity. It seems as you level up your character to 30 you unlock ways to swap up your abilities and make them more defensive or more damaging. I asked the ever important question about how big of a detriment a new player will be to seasoned players… and apparently the game is more skill based. Level 1 characters and Level 30 characters have the same health, and the upgrades to abilities don’t really crank up the damage value, but instead change the way they work. So in theory this might be a great game for impromptu co-op with friends. That has always been the challenge in our own little circle, that if someone was not there on the first night… it is often difficult to play catch up and be viable until everyone simply hits the level cap. The other nice thing about this game is that it is a straight up $19.99 game, and I grilled them a bit about future monetization plans. It seems like right now they have no plans to offer a whole bunch of DLC characters or anything like that… they are just trying to design a really tight three player co-op experience and that is in many ways refreshing.
Ultimate Chicken Horse
The other game I really want to talk about from yesterday is Ultimate Chicken Horse. Now this is a title we have talked about before on AggroChat on our PAX Prime Show. While Tam, Kodra, and Ashgar tried to explain the game to me… I didn’t really “grok” it until I was sitting there yesterday with a controller in hand playing it myself. The idea is pretty simple… you have a platformer that you compete with up to four other players. The level designs are pretty classic and relatively simple to complete. What makes the game amazing is that each round, each player gets a block that they can place somewhere in the level. Some of these blocks help the players out like springboards or platforms…. and others will kill the player like crossbows that fire arrows, or spiked floors. The goal of the game is the make the level difficult enough for at least one of the people you are playing with to die…. but not so hard that you cannot beat it yourself. If everyone beats the level… no points are awarded. If no one beats the level… no points are awarded. Things start to get really insane about five rounds in when the map becomes a field of death and destruction. I can already tell this is going to be one of those must own “go to” games for hanging out with friends. The best part about it is the fact that it does couch co-op and does it amazingly well. The only problem I am going to have is that I am not sure if it supports network co-op, and I simply don’t have a group of people to play it with on a regular basis in local mode. I am absolutely going to buy the game regardless because I want to support this flavor of insanity. If you get a chance, you should totally check it out when it ends up on steam shortly.
Ending the Day
The big problem with the day yesterday, was the fact that I was super paranoid the entire time about the crappy parking option I had. Previously the $10 lots were for as long as you cared to stay, meaning I could be there late at night without much issue. I talked to the parking attendant about the lot I happened to be in, and she mentioned that it was a privately owned lot and they were super quick to boot cars. So the entire time while roaming around Pax I kept looking at my phone to check when it was time to walk out and get the car and try and move it to someplace better. I finally headed out around 3:30 in the afternoon to do that, and in the time it took me to exit that surface lot… someone had already taken my space. I drove around Commerce and Market streets and all of those lots still showed the “Full” sign, so I circled back around to the lot I had parked in… which now had a barricade across its entrance as well. So everyone went off to Dave and Busters, and I instead went to the Hotel and played 3DS until my wife and friend got in a few minutes later. Once the traffic had died down we went out roaming for a bit, because we needed some pop to throw in the hotel fridge. The day took a lot more out of me than I realized, and I ended up crashing really hard about 9 pm. Over the course of the day I walked a little over 15,000 steps, which is something I am just not used to right now. It was fine and well while I was in motion, but once I got back to the hotel room… it took its toll. Overall was a really good first day, other than the parking bullshit. Next year I am going to sort out the bus system and just use it, because in theory there is a bus that picks up right outside this hotel and drops off near the convention center.