The Day After
This mornings post is coming out super late because… I slept in. After feeling like I had worked the last few days, I was super thankful to have taken Monday off. The positive is that since I had gotten up every morning at 5:30 it should not be too hard to shift back into work mode tomorrow. To the left is a photo I took yesterday when we were gassing up at the altar of excess… the New Braunfels Buc-ee’s. We decided since it was a short distance from San Antonio that we would stop there for breakfast and gas up for the trip. So here you have a very sleepy Bel who had not slept terribly well the night before. When I came back to my hotel room I was kind of riding an adrenaline high from day two. This meant that nothing that I did seemed to be able to calm my mind down enough to sleep. Normally this is the point when I get up and play some game, but our hotel internet connection was fairly slow, and I did not really want to go through the process of having to verify to WoW or FFXIV that I was connecting from a foreign IP… also I had already packed up all of my gear in preparation for getting up early the next morning.
Because all the pre-packing we managed to get on the road about 6:30 am and drove through to Waco before taking our first stop (other than Buc-ee’s) which bought us quite a bit of time. One of the things I want to ask my Texan friends… what the fuck is with the lean beef sausage? I thought maybe the BBQ joint in Austin was an aberration, but upon stopping at Buc-ee’s I got two Kolaches and both were this super lean, super dense beef sausage. Firstly sausage should be pork, but even that aside it should be a FATTY meat… because otherwise it is just like eating this dry meat log. That said compared to my beloved QuikTrip I was not terribly impressed with either my or my wife’s breakfast choices. They got a massive strike from my wife in that they did not have any donuts… they had EVERYTHING you could imagine, but no donuts. Anyways lackluster breakfast and fairly insane prices aside… we had a pretty chill trip back. I think in part it was the desire to get home that kept me going. So we stopped in Waco, Allen, Durant to hit a Gas Station, Atoka to hit an old school non-supercenter style Wal-mart and then pushed straight through to home. So we were on the road from 6:30 am until somewhere between 4:30 and 5 pm. Considerably better time than the trip out.
Highlights of Pax South
I have to say hands down the best thing to come out of Pax South was getting to meet my long time friend, guildie, and podcasting compatriot Ashgar in person. There are always those awkward moments when you see someone in the flesh that you already know their vocal mannerisms as your mind adjusts to seeing a body attached to them… but that faded extremely quickly. I snapped a photo of him dominating a cool indie game, and I believe it was snapped without him really knowing I took it… but considering he didn’t seem to mind the picture from yesterday going ahead and posting it anyways. For the last several years this man has been one of my closest friends, and I cannot wrap up the magic that was meeting him in person and realizing that yup he is in fact exactly like how I expected him to be in the flesh. I am of course sad that we only got to hang out that one day… but it was a pretty awesome day.
While I didn’t stop and take pictures of many of them… I have to say seeing all the people dressed up as things they loved was another huge plus of the experience. The entire convention has this entire vibe of “everything is awesome”. The past year has been a rough spot for gamers as a whole, and I was pleasantly surprised that I did not witness any creepy or reprehensible behavior. I did witness a socially awkward kid addressing a woman dressed as Teemo as “hot teemo” but a random guy from the crowd stepped up to say “man you are being a little creepy” and the socially awkward kid apologized and walked away. The thing that made me the happiest were the pairs of fathers and daughters roaming around the convention… when you could tell the daughter was the one who was really excited to be there. Pax South gave me a lot of hope for the future, and I am sure there were bad things that came out of the con, like there are anywhere… but it did not at least seem to be super prevalent. The photo to the side was so spectacular that I stopped and asked the guy if he minded me taking it. For those who are not familiar… this is a spot on “Old Gregg” from The Mighty Boosh. To make things even better… he pretty much nailed the Old Gregg voice and mannerisms as well. Was kinda bummed that he did not offer me warm baileys from a shoe.
Belle of the Ball
I have to break this photo out again, because it makes me so happy to have a picture of Rae, Ash and Me playing Gigantic. This game was really my own personal “best in show”, in part because it was not something I expected to like at all. They really did an outstanding job both in the staging of the product, their booth, and building buzz around the convention. They also had what looked to be a pretty awesome party Saturday night. I swung by for a bit to say hi, but knowing I had a long drive ahead of me I simply did not stay for long. That party honestly was the only time during the entire weekend that crowds got to me… but that was in part due to the fact that it was quite literally standing room only. Finding enough free space to move around between the various areas of the room was a bit of a challenge and folks had spilled out onto the nearby balcony as well. Everyone I dealt with from Motiga the company behind Gigantic was simply awesome and welcoming. It was so many things that made them my pick of the show, for starters it is a game I had no real interest in but only sat down to play it due to my personal connection to Lonrem who was helping them out that weekend. The booth downstairs was impressive, and really dominated the floor which is saying something considering both Twitch and Intel had some pretty intense booths as well. On top of that… the lines to play this game were insane. At one point Saturday the line almost wrapped around twice. I’ve never been one to watch other people play games… I don’t watch a lot of twitch unless the caster is a friend of mine. While my circle of friends are big into watching the LCS play in League… I get bored within a few minutes of a match starting. However at various points during the weekend I found myself hanging out upstairs in the scrimmage room just watching the various teams playing. I found myself drawn to this game in ways I can’t quite grasp.
Largely I think this is in part because the game is visually exciting to watch. There is constant action and the characters are animated beautifully. Every attack you perform feels important, because there is weight to the animations that make them feel epic. Another huge thing for me was just how “at home” I felt with the controls. During the first match I picked up the controls of The Margrave within a few seconds and landed the first kill of the game. It felt and controlled exactly like I thought that character should. In my second game I wanted to try a champion, only to find it was already taken… so picked Roland on a whim. I don’t normally like ranged characters, but I felt Roland’s mid to short range game play compelling with the hookshot escape mechanism to get away when things went bad. So there I was playing a ranged character and loving it, in spite of it going against everything I traditionally like in games. I have a feeling I could probably pick up ANY character and find something I liked about it. The skill sets just seem to have a lot of depth to them, and the various specializations give players way to tweak them and make them their own. I am really looking forward to seeing more of this game as it moves forward towards the planned late 2015 release.