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PAX05 Writeup 144

Last week I packed my bags and went to Washington to partake in the event known as PAX, The Penny Arcade Expo. That sexy new rising star of video game conferences. Along with thousands of other fans of the comic strip, we filed into the Meydenbauer conference center unclear as to what would greet us inside.

When we arrived on friday it was already packed pretty solid. The hotel parking lot had many cars colorfully decorated with windows proclaiming cryptic messages like "OMFG PAX05". We were definitely in the right place.

We entered the hall in time for for Gabe & Tycho to give their opening panel before their legions of adoring fans. The pair speak charismatically and energetically, giving fun answers to the good questions, and handling the lame questions with expertise that can't be learned. jerry is the loud one, and he especially enjoys the crowd. He's fast, witty and very entertaining, even when they have to answer the question about where the (cw) in their nicknames comes from for what must have been the 103rd time of the weekend. Mike is more quiet, but when he speaks it is always draws a laugh. They clearly were speaking to their home crowd, but it also was very obvious to see the real chemistry that makes their strip so funny.

The Red vs Blue panel was similarly entertaining. They answered questions about some of the more ridiculous aspects of the show, to some more philosophical points about machinema and the relationship between the would-be director, and video game publisher. Most entertaining was the story of shots with the number of actors on screen outnumbering the number of performers, requiring dextrous feet to get the shots right. They screened a fair bit of RvB material for a receptive audience. What most impressed me was the schedule they work under. Writing the show, recording the dialog, and animating it over the course of a single week. It's no small task. I bought the Season 3 DVD.

For me the highlight of the weekend was the 'Make Monday's Strip' panel where the process of actually creating a single Penny Arcade comic was put up on a giant screen for thousands of fans to watch in amazement. Ok, so they cheated a little and pre-sketched the strip, but to actually watch Gabe ink and color all 3 panels in like 45 minutes was really cool to see. I used to do a lot of cartooning back in the day too, and I can only imagine the stress this put him through: drawing is hard, and to do it under the megascope of a couple thousand people, even tho the masses are fans, well he handled it well. To see him hold aloft his "Wacom Pad the Size of an Aircraft Carrier" like some sort of bizarre 2001 monolith was very fun. And somehow Jerry manages to spew forth a vast quantity of words, most of which get laughs. Talented boys, these two.

Of course there was more to the show than just the panels. The exhibition hall was packed elbow to elbow. The line to purchase Penny Arcade merch was like a mighty cobra coiling through the building. I'm sure that countless fruit fucker t-shirts are now spread around the nation like a plague of locust, descending upon electronics stores around the land causing children to shield the eyes of their unaware parents as PAX attendees strut by wearing the arcane symbols of their fellowship.

The big 3 consoles all had representation, but by far the Nintendo booth took the cake. I mean, they had the new Zelda up for all to behold. New Zelda. Do you understand me? New Zelda causes feelings in my pants that I find best to ignore in public. They also had Nintendogs which compelled me to visit the local Best Buy that very day. Tragically they were out of stock, but since I still have not 'caught-them-all' in Pokemon Emerald, maybe I should just say NO to a new portable addiction.

Turbine was demonstrating early builds of both their Lord of the Rings massive, and their Dungeons and Dragons massive. I spent a fair bit of time chatting with them about their plans for each of these games. Competing with the gorilla that is World of Warcraft must be a difficult place to be, but each of these games appear to be addressing different issues with the shadow that looms over their industry. D&D Online for example will only be implementing levels 1-10 at launch. The game will be less about the level grind, and more about compelling story line. Of course, for me, I'm a numbers guy. When I play Warcraft, I often don't even read the whole quest (this has screwed me in the past mind you). I need to kill 10 murlocs? Ok GO! KILL KILL! But the graphics for D&D On-line are very compelling. A definite upgrade from any other massive I've seen. I'm looking forward to the office going on an adventure in that world, if only because it is based on the D&D 3.5 rules, and that sort of thing has a fuzzy warm place in my heart.

The Lord of the Rings game was much earlier in development. By far the most interesting aspect of their system was their concept of difficulty-over-time instead of difficulty-over-location. If you go to The Hinterlands in WoW, you know you're going to be fighting 40-something monsters. And it will always be the same. When you kill the named char, he will re-spawn 5 minutes later for the next guy to gack. LotR is causing the world to change following significant events. A town that you visit at level 5 might burn to the ground following crucial story events. When you later visit that town, the inn will be ashes, and the NPC who gave you quests is a corpse. In other words, it's a sense of state that doesn't exist in WoW. They also had the interesting idea of allowing 9 player parties, but getting together parties that large is a lot more challenging. I love the concept in theory, but in practice, I think it would drive me mad.

Both games seem more tightly focused on compelling story and team play. Less about the level grind. Also they had some interesting puzzle type action unlike what I'm used to seeing in a massive. I definitely look forward to trying them out as they become available. WoW now has 4 million subscribers around the world. Since these games won't be available for many moons, I imagine the market will be ripe for a shift.

WidowPC was sponsoring a gaming room. It was neat to see rows of PCs with gamers slumped over them focused upon killing aliens, friends, or monsters with hope to earn points, repution, or most honorable of all, that glorious thing known as "XP".

The Bring-Your-Own-Computer space was also a sight to behold. The real surprise to me was the general quiet in these spaces. Almost tranquil at times. Everyone seemed very focused on the games they were playing. Personally I like a little more cussing when I play, but the whole weekend was a pretty clean affair. I wish I had lugged my box- Speakeasy was providing bandwidth and my arcanite transmute was cooled down!

And let me not forget Bawlz. The caffeinated drink of choice was available and sold for a buck a bottle. The beverage was everpresent: from people dropping the glass bottles in the audiences listening to panels, to watching literally dozens of people lugging cases of the stuff from the conference, to the hotel a half dozen blocks away, struggling under the weight, taking pause to lean against whatever flat surface would support the weight, hearts racing from the caffeinated equivalent of almost 3 cans of coke consumed in minutes. It reminded me of the time at ALS in like 1998 that we first discovered Penguin Mints. We didn't really know how much caffeine they put in those things so we were popping them like Pez all morning. By the end of the afternoon the concept of "Blinking" was foreign.

The saturday night finale was a concert by the Minibosses, MC Chris, and MC Frontalot. For Kathleen, the highlight was listening to MC Chris rant in front of thousands of attendees. I don't know how much was his voice and how much was the sound system, but it was often difficult to make him out when he was rapping, but when he was complaining, it was quite audible and crowd ate it right up.

Anyway, PAX was a fun experience. Next year they plan to move to a larger space in Seattle proper. They really need it: this place was packed. The sardines cliche doesn't do it justice. Every bit of wall had consoles and TVs on it with gamers glued to the screens playing Katamari Damacy, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and whatever other games they could get their hands on. Movement was difficult, especially in the exhibition hall.

I imagine that next year they larger space will open doors to more exhibitors, larger displays, more room for games, and attendees. Does PAX spell the end of E3 or CES? Obviously not. But would I choose PAX over COMDEX? Definitely. Any vendor would be crazy not to want to show their stuff here: this was a very hardcore crowd. Real gamers here to play, and talk about the games they love and hate. It's not about marketing or dollars, just about passion, and that makes for a far more fun weekend.

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PAX05 Writeup

Comments Filter:
  • OMG!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by geomon ( 78680 ) on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @12:21PM (#13436924) Homepage Journal
    AMD-supplied gameboxen!!!.... (huff, puff).... Donated arcade games!!!.... (groan).... 400 MAN LAN!!!.... AAAAGGGGHHHHH!!!


    Does anyone have a towel?
  • PAX schedule notes (Score:3, Informative)

    by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @12:25PM (#13436970) Journal
    From pennyarcadeexpo.com:

    08-05-05 Schedule Update and More! A ton of shifts were made to the schedule, but we're happy to announce that NO MORE CHANGES WILL BE MADE. What you see on the events page is what's gonna happen." (Emphasis theirs)

    08-22-05 FOUR DAYS LEFT The Rainbow Six Lockdown Tourney has been changed to a Ghost Recon Summit Strike tourney. Sorry for the inconvenience, as we just heard ourselves. Even the official program won't reflect the changes.

    Just thought it kinda funny...
    • but we're happy to announce that NO MORE CHANGES WILL BE MADE.

      Wow! Anyone who makes a statement like that really hasn't had a lot of experience organising this sort of thing.

      Come to think of it, it sounds like they didn't even have experience attending this sort of thing.
  • Why Penny Arcade? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rei ( 128717 ) on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @12:27PM (#13436992) Homepage
    Why is it that Penny Arcade gets all the attention around here? There are tons of good comics out there with a geeky slant - I'm a big fan of Sluggy Freelance [sluggy.com], for example, which just in recent months has had plots/subplots about X-com, the I-Pod, PSP, cloning, and (perhaps more "dorky" than "geeky") Harry Potter.
    • Penny-Arcade has a HUGE following when compared to other online only comics.

      It also helps that it is consistantly funny.
    • Re:Why Penny Arcade? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by hobbesx ( 259250 )
      Maybe it's me, but perhaps I missed the Sluggy Freelance Expo? I tried to like Sluggy, but for whatever reason it never really stuck. Maybe I'm too much of a linguaphile and am addicted to Tycho's posts?

      PA's just more popular, really.

      • Pete (of Sluggy Freelance) regularly goes to comic cons and other venues. Slashdot never posts about them. There's this strange bias toward this *one* comic, which isn't especially deserving (don't get me wrong, it's very good, but there are a lot of very good comics out there), as opposed to geeky webcomics in general.
        • And yes, I realize that there's a difference between going to a con and hosting your own - but that's really about shameless self promotion.
          • by voorko02 ( 847122 )
            Really, the only difference between going to a con and hosting your own is the amount of self-promotion you recieve? No more work invovled?

            I'm not a big Penny Arcade fan, but someone hosting a large videogame expo with the kind of turnout PAX had (4 buddies in your basement doesn't count) seems like it would have gotten a Slashdot mention regardless of who hosted it. The thing is I don't think anyone else does host simliar events, and that's kinda the point.

        • Have you ever submitted a Sluggy related story? You do know how it works around here, right? Random people submit stuff they think is cool and that others want to read about. PA fans tend to submit sotries and so you see them. Submit stories they might get posted.

          I really fail to see your point unless you have submited a bunch of Sluggy stories and they have been rejected. Even then the editors make no secret of the fact that they choose the stuff that they want to read. So yes it is biased but everybody wh
        • PA gets a lot of play on Slashdot for two reasons:

          1. It's fucking huge
          2. Tyco's newsposts

          Tyco's newsposts obviously often deal with a gaming topic of somekind, which is also obviously good fodder for the same topic appearing over here at Slashdot. Other big webcomic sites like PvP, Sluggy, Megatokyo, Goats, and many others don't offer written content as regularly. As for the smaller webcomics that might, well that's just it: They are smaller, and perhaps do not get recognized as much because of it.
    • Re:Why Penny Arcade? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Illserve ( 56215 ) on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @12:36PM (#13437083)
      PA delivers most of the time. Everything else is very hit or miss. I'll get an occasional chuckle out of PVP, for example, but I really can't remember the last time.
    • Re:Why Penny Arcade? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tont0r ( 868535 )
      I wrote for an online comic about 2 years ago (im not going to shamelessly plug it either), but we were good enough to get invited out to E3 and hang out with the Blizzard guys, but we really didnt get that much attention otherwise. We had about 8000 readers a day, but still. The PA guys are a great team, but they were also one of the first guys to have a video game based comic.
    • Because! (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Why is it that Penny Arcade gets all the attention around here?

      Probably because it's only marginally humorous and it contains a lot of unnecessary swearing, just like Slashdot.
    • by Xzzy ( 111297 )
      Why is it that Penny Arcade gets all the attention around here?

      Better marketing. Sluggy is a much more word of mouth deal. PA actively tries to get attention.

      I've read both for years and they both are thriving in their respective niche, so I don't see why lines have to be drawn debating which one deserves more recognition.
      • It's what true PA fan would call the "Robert Khoo Factor". PA has a business unit, other online comics don't.
        • I think has very little to do with it. PA just has more appeal to more people. I gave sluggy a chance but it never hooked me. I bought two goats t-shirts and still happily wear them, but I haven't read the comic since it got too wordy and weird without being funny. Good comics spread fast-enough by word of mouth.
    • Because they're generally getting in the news for something tangential to making comics. Like Child's Play, or PAX, or even the Strawberry Shortcake debacle.

      If slashdot just link to everyone who made a good comic, there'd be no room for anything else on the site.

      It's like how Scott Kurtz gets linked for his Blank Label comics, but not for just being a good strip. Someone's who's never read PA might still care about Child's Play.

      And finally... they're probably one of the few comics that can actually withstan
      • Just a nit-pick here, but an important one - Scott Kurtz actually has next to nothing to do with Blank Label Comics [blanklabelcomics.com], but rather he just gave them a few plugs on his website upon their creation.

        There are definitely some good comics there - go check them out, see if there's anything you like there.

        • My bad. Didn't he do something with the whole offering his archives for free for any paper? I thought he had started some sort of organization for it, went to his site... bam, giant blank label comics banner.

          Apologies to the great people at Blank Label.
          • He did... his whole deal was that some webcomic authors that wanted to make a serious living off of their work were using the web basically as a means to garner the attention that could get them picked up by newspapers in syndication. Thing is, most papers get the majority of their comics in large groups from a small handful of syndication groups. Kurtz's argument was that this business model was past it's prime, and that real money could be made from their own websites. Instead of using the web to prom
      • They even have a certain amount of "Penny-Dot" power. I remember a couple months ago when they brought down the Tenkay Commotion webcomic by posting a link.
    • While it's true that there are many other fantastic 'geek oriented' comics out there, the attention that Penny Arcade recieves comes largley due to the fact that they are more than just a webcomic. I have yet to see another webcomic that not only hosts its own video game convention but also runs a huge charity drive that has drawn a lot of attention as well. I don't have the facts on this but I also believe that they are one of the first webcomics to move away from the donation system and allow the author
    • Re:Why Penny Arcade? (Score:5, Informative)

      by BenjyD ( 316700 ) on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @12:40PM (#13437138)
      Some reasons:

      1. There used to be a link to PA on the Slashdot front page. That's how I found out about it, anyway.

      2. PA is consistently funny.

      3. PA generally has interesting and (mostly) well-written games-related info along with the comic. Certainly better than the write up for most comics and games sites, anyway.

      4. PA has gone out of its way to create a community of readers around itself. They have their own WoW guild and many mascots, for example.
      • 3. PA generally has interesting and (mostly) well-written games-related info along with the comic. Certainly better than the write up for most comics and games sites, anyway.

        I think a lot of people don't realize how important the nwesposts are to PA. Many of the comics aren't nearly the same without the associated post...I've noticed this since I downloaded them all and started using them as my screensaver. The posts help turn Penny Arcade into more of an online gaming magazine, rather that just a webc
    • Because it's about gaming, and because it's funny.
    • Re:Why Penny Arcade? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by oGMo ( 379 ) on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @12:43PM (#13437163)
      Easy: Penny Arcade isn't just a webcomic. It's not just a fictional construct with an interesting plot. It's commentary on gaming and comnmunity by people who really know what they're talking about: and it's good.

      Sluggy has sucked for awhile. I used to be a big sluggite: it just doesn't interest any longer, it has lost its flavor, its appeal. I read a lot of other comics too, both gaming and not gaming, and I find new ones all the time. Except for 8-bit theater [nuklearpower.com], which has remained funny over a suprisingly long period of time, everything has had its ups and downs: especially sluggy. People lose interest in what they're doing, they don't know where to go next, they get sick of characters, they feel like changing the plot, or the style, and thus the comic changes.

      Penny Arcade is like none of these things. Tycho and Gabe aren't going to lose interest in the industry, it's what they love. The comic isn't long-running and plot-based; they try new things all the time, but that doesn't change what it is: a look into the mind of two very talented gamers.

    • Why is it that Penny Arcade gets all the attention around here?

      I don't know of too many other webcomics that have their own game expos.
    • by Kirby ( 19886 ) on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @01:01PM (#13437332) Homepage
      Because no other online comic creators decided to host a convention that got 7000 attendees? Really, it doesn't take a lot to figure out why they're getting the press this week.

      It was an outstanding event - far better run than any Anime Expo I've been to, and a lot more involved than any regular sci-fi con. There was a _lot_ going on - at least one tournament in console, PC, and tabletop each at any given time, concerts, an exhibition hall, freeplay and bring-your-own computer rooms, panels, and far too many people in far too small a space, and they managed to make it work.

      Plus, the gender ratio was a lot better than expected. Girl Gamer Geeks aren't as rare as the typical slashdot poster jokes about.

    • Because they held a well-attended game expo.
    • by Buzz_Litebeer ( 539463 ) on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @01:06PM (#13437383) Journal
      Penny Arcade has FLARE, and the flare exudes into other realms.

      How many Sluggy expos have you been to? How many Childs Play drives to help children have you seen?

      This coupled with the fact that penny-arcade is essentially a great editorial page coupled with a comic that is, usually, intwined to the comic itself makes it good.

      You can read the front page, find out interesting things, and then find a comic that is related to that page, and in some ways related too tightly in that it does not stand on its own.

      Many times the comics are unrelated, but in there own are comedy gold. See the 8-29 strip, i mean its JESUS talking about the REVOLUTION man.

      Good stuff ;_)
    • Don't know if this has anything to do with the site's popularity, but ThinkGeek is listed as a sponsor on http://www.pennyarcadeexpo.com/ [pennyarcadeexpo.com] . . .
    • Easy. Sluggy is too verbose. I don't have time to read all that dialogue. PA delivers the chuckles with a minimum of effort. Also, I don't enjoy his cartooning style as much. That's just my opinion, but it's pretty easy to agree PA has a much more "polished" feel.
    • It has the largest fan-base, therefore the largest number of people contributing stories and comments about it? The "editor" of Slashdot is a big fan, and therefore he's allowd to put whatever the hell he wants up there, for starters?

      Feel free to start your own gigantic website and link to whatever comics float your boat.
    • I don't know why, but I just can't get to like Sluggy that much.

      Another online geek/nerd comic is UserFriendly [userfriendly.org], and I think it's much better. Altough it's been a while since the last "awesome" strip.

      And of course, even another option for those with a more "academic" background would be Piled Higher& Deeper [phdcomics.com], a comic about grad students life (or lack of :) ). As I am a PhD student right now, I identify with this a lot. If you are a grad student, you should definitely check it out.
    • ...than any of its rivals. Simple as that.
    • It does seem like User Friendly has fallen off of the geek consciousness.
    • Re:Why Penny Arcade? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by chrysrobyn ( 106763 ) on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @06:19PM (#13439935)
      Why is it that Penny Arcade gets all the attention around here? There are tons of good comics out there with a geeky slant - I'm a big fan of Sluggy Freelance, for example...

      I read Sluggy every day, so I'll take your example. Pete often complains about a lack of time. He's got a life and places to be. The strip often gets neglected. Filler strips disrupt story lines and punish those who expect the strip to be his day job. A little drama and suspense is okay, but we're not talking about cliffhangers here, Pete outright drops the entire thing for days at a time. And he's always got excuses too-- there for us to read. His material isn't that current, so he may as well build a buffer of a week and take advantage of those great days and not so great days. "Gone Fishing"? If this were his real job, he'd have something prepared to fill the space. Despite all behavior to the contrary, Pete depends on Sluggy for his living.

      Penny-Arcade, on the other hand, also has off days. Filler happens with conferences. Rough uncolored sketches, however, fit in a strip that abhors plot and continuity. They set the expectations to be a random series of one shots and by and large deliver. There are complaints and updates are regularly a few hours late, but the strip is there. Penny-Arcade has held a few PAXs at this point (clearly the gamer / geek crowd appeal) and Child's Play, quite a charity that's done some impressive things.

      • The strip often gets neglected. Filler strips disrupt story lines and punish those who expect the strip to be his day job. A little drama and suspense is okay, but we're not talking about cliffhangers here, Pete outright drops the entire thing for days at a time. And he's always got excuses too-- there for us to read. His material isn't that current, so he may as well build a buffer of a week and take advantage of those great days and not so great days. "Gone Fishing"? If this were his real job, he'd have s
    • A couple reasons:

      Penny Arcade is one of the most polished webcomics out there. It may not be stunningly deep or anything, but (a) it's generally at least decently funny, which is harder than it sounds, and (b) the art is really pretty.

      There are also a couple of other decent geek webcomics, like GPF [gpf-comics.com] and UserFriendly.

      Of PA, GPL, UF, and Sluggy, PA consistently has better art -- they always produce a large, colored strip. PA has a written component, and even the comics act as a humorous news source -- it act
  • by dividedsky319 ( 907852 ) on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @12:29PM (#13437020) Homepage

    Yeah, easy enough to go to the main page and go to "current comic", but a direct link is always nice...

    8-29-2005's comic [penny-arcade.com]
  • kudo's (Score:2, Funny)

    by halo8 ( 445515 )
    this was a very hardcore crowd. Real gamers here to play, and talk about the games they love and hate. It's not about marketing or dollars, just about passion, and that makes for a far more fun weekend.

    Very nice wrighting.. makes me want to go.

    p.s. any pics?
  • Omegathon? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZiZ ( 564727 ) * on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @12:39PM (#13437125) Homepage
    What the heck? How can there be a respectable writeup about PAX without even mentioning the Omegathon II? With its prize pack (scroll down) [penny-arcade.com] of the ORIGINAL NES COLLECTION?

    What was the final battle?


    • Re:Omegathon? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ZiZ ( 564727 ) *
      So the moderators have no idea that the Omegathon is a huge part of PAX either. Very well then. Let me sum up by quoting from an interview [gamecloud.com] on the subject:

      (There's) the Omegathon. Twenty Omeganauts were selected from the pool of pre-registrants to take part in this three-day multi-genre duel. Starting Friday they work their way through single-elimination matches in tabletop, console, PC, and arcade games until only two remain. They'll be set on the stage in front of 2,000 of their peers for a final show

    • Re:Omegathon? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by oGMo ( 379 ) on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @01:17PM (#13437525)

      Eh. The Omegathon was OK. I didn't really pay attention to it this year; after all, I didn't have a chance of winning, and I'd rather be spending my time playing games myself.

      Last year the final round of Pong was very cool, suprising, and funny, because no one knew what to expect; this year it wasn't really a suprise that it'd be an old-school game, merely a question of what. To answer your question: Combat (Atari) [atariage.com].

      After watching the omeganauts suck at Karaoke Revolution (Tycho and Kara played a round first, and they were very good... almost all the omeganauts were very bad), I found it hard to care about any of the contenders.

    • The final round of the Omegathon was epic. It was a one-on-one in the original Atari Combat, and probably the most intense live competition that I've ever witnessed. Words truly do not do it proper justice.
      • Re:Omegathon? (Score:5, Informative)

        by InferiorFloater ( 34347 ) on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @01:49PM (#13437845)
        Specifically, the Combat went down like this: Round One was a massacre, victory to coreside, like 20-10. Round 2 saw LeRoy manage a tie, while learning the finer points of the game as he went. Round 3 then went to LeRoy, by then the crowd's favorite for his underdog status, in a lower-scoring match.

        This all set the stage for the most epic and intense match of combat I've ever seen. Coreside jumped out to an early lead, then LeRoy mounted a comeback. in the middle of which, the Atari actually started to freak out, corrupting the signal. Despite this, LeRoy managed to comeback furiously, going up 11-8 or so by the time the warning flash took place. However, Coreside then landed several miraculous shots to go up by 1 point in the very last second of the match.

        I figure LeRoy got the better deal - he won an Alienware PC, and doesn't have to figure out what the hell to do with all that NES stuff.
  • Amazing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LegendOfLink ( 574790 ) on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @12:49PM (#13437216) Homepage
    That two "regular" guys like Tycho and Gabe have been able to become such icons in the gaming industry. I'm glad to see that it's more than just a few giant companies making all the rules when it comes to the form of entertainment I remember best during my childhood.
  • Great, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by th3space ( 531154 ) <brad AT bradfucious DOT com> on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @12:52PM (#13437230) Homepage
    Did you skip out before the Omegathon or something?! Jesus, how can you write up PAX05 without even MENTIONING it?

    dilettante :(
  • Cool info (Score:3, Informative)

    by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @12:53PM (#13437249) Journal
    I'm a big LOTR fan, so I thank you for the info. I just checked out Turbine's LOTR Online game. Looks pretty good, but the WMV file has a lot of background noise. Coincidentally, the maker of the new Penny Arcade Trading Card Game, Sabertooth Games [sabertoothgames.com], also makes a cool LOTR minis game [sabertoothgames.com].
    • We got a demo of the LOTR game at PAX, (though it was using the same build they used for the E3 Demo), and all in all, I wasn't too impressed or excited. The biggest problem was that the world in the game didn't feel like middle-earth. It was too generic. I'm hoping that will be fixed by the time that it's released, but that's just a hope. I wrote a more comprehensive'ish review here [edgefactor.com].
  • Listless crowd? (Score:5, Informative)

    by fahrvergnugen ( 228539 ) <fahrvNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @12:54PM (#13437264) Homepage

    There's a great forum thread [penny-arcade.com] going on at the Penny-Arcade site about what lameasses the concert crowd was. Apparently every time anyone tried to rock out, they were given a big ol' social beatdown by the crowd, who just wanted to play their game boys and nod in time.

    What blows my mind is that the guy who calls them on it is getting chewed out, by and large, by the other members of the forum. I mean, far be it from me to tell you how to enjoy a concert, but wow. It's like these people have never been to a concert or something.

    I was contemplating a PAX trip next year, but if this is the kind of crowd PAX is attracting, I can't say I'm particularly enthused about attending. I mean, I know it's nerdcore, but it just strikes me as impolite to sit there and play Nintendogs while someone's performing on stage for you.

    • And people wonder why they are single... You seriously bring up an important point. People like this are not single because they love games and are nerds. They are single because they don't have any social skills. This seems to be the opposite of the crowds found at Anime conventions where everyone seems to be extreme extroverts, which makes for a better convention experience.
      • i engountered the same thing when i attended a concert at conneticon easrlier this summer, there were very few people "rocking out" but there were so few that there were roughly a dozen people up and getting into the music and 1/2 that just sitting there. the whole thing felt rather awkward, i think nerdcore music in that vein tend to be something enjoyed in the privacy of one's home and nerds listen to very little besides that and don't know how to really get into it. in short i don't think many nerds ar
    • Re:Listless crowd? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rico_Suave ( 147634 )
      Well, ya kind of have to go with the flow when it comes to concerts. If I went to see, say, James Taylor and started a mosh pit, I would (rightly) earn the ire of everyone around me. On the flipside, if I went to a Pantera show (RIP Dimebag) and was trying to shush everyone around me so I could appreciate the music, I'd again rightly get my ass kicked.
    • It's like these people have never been to a concert or something. More than likely, they haven't. Otherwise they wouldn't have hauled their DS/PSP/miscellaneous expensive hardware into a pile of people who could possibly be rocking out pretty hard. mc chris got a pretty solid response, mostly because he worked the crowd incredibly well. However, how do you react to a band that plays video game themes? There's no lyrics, so some of the people were singing along to the guitar. One of my buddies flat out to
    • I didn't have this problem, but I guess I don't normally start flailing and trying to start a pit in the middle of a tight crowd. Cause I'm not a fucktard.

      I was able to rock out fine. (Although I've been told that I headbang "with wide range" -- apparently most people hardly move when they headbang, I dunno where that came from, must be a west coast thing. I figure I've got the hair for it, so go for it.) But I also wanted to watch the performers, not just be a dervish.

      The poster doesn't have to be a dick a
    • Re:Listless crowd? (Score:3, Informative)

      by MrScience ( 126570 )
      perfect example [flickr.com]
      (taken during Friday night's performances)
      • You don't understand. The man you see there was likely on Pictochat. Pretty much everyone with a DS was on Pictochat. On Saturday's performance, there were almost 3 FULL Pictochat rooms. It was absolutely fantastic to be able to communicate and talk about the performance with fellow concert goers, and just take in the sounds.
    • I don't know, to me gaming with a live soundtrack sounds like a pretty cool idea.
  • PAX05? (Score:5, Funny)

    by hal2814 ( 725639 ) on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @12:57PM (#13437303)
    Here I was hoping to read about the latest and greatest info on PAX. They don't even talk about "Diagnosis Murder" or "Touched by an Angel"! What kind of review is this?
  • And here I thought it had something to do with K-Pax
  • I also was at PAX (Score:5, Informative)

    by ahoehn ( 301327 ) * <andrew AT hoe DOT hn> on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @01:04PM (#13437363) Homepage
    Everything Taco said was largely true, but there were one or two negative things about PAX as well. The most glaring, and probably unavoidable, was the stench of hundreds of tightly packed nerds. Maydenbauer's AC system simply couldn't circulate air fast enough to clear out the freeplay rooms. It was overwhelming.
          The exibition hall had some nifty things, Nintendo showing off yet-to-be-released games and the micro, but I was surprised that after all of the Penny-Arcade comics about World of Warcraft that Bilzzard wasn't there, and the Microsoft booth was nothing more than a neon XBOX sign and a projector connected to an xbox, no 360, nothing.
          Was PAX nifty? Yep. Was it an event that compelled me to camp out at the conference center all weekend? Nope. But from the excitement on the faces of many attendees, I was in the minority.
    My roomate and I wrote a bit more about it, and the exciting world of Seattle's WiFi enabled ferries, over at edgefactor [edgefactor.com].
    • While PAX itself was decent, what really made it very exciting for me was the opportunity to hang around with friends from out of town in such a gaming-oriented setting. If I had been by myself, I would have done very little.

      Instead, I was there a little on Friday, most of the day Saturday, and would have spent all day Sunday there too if I could have, because it was a great place to be with those friends.
    • Microsoft booth was nothing more than a neon XBOX sign and a projector connected to an xbox, no 360, nothing.

      Weird. Didn't PAX04 have the first playable Halo 2 available outside press events like E3? Suppised they would go from that to nothing, though I suppose Bungie is just a division of Microsoft, not Mircosoft proper.

    • the Microsoft booth was nothing more than a neon XBOX sign and a projector connected to an xbox, no 360, nothing.

      The Microsoft 'booth' was a joke. The girl there handed me a 60-day trial copy of One Note [microsoft.com], something I know every gamer is drooling over. How hard would it have been to bring a few more XBoxen and a couple of demos of unreleased games? Bungie, Microsoft Game Studios and Microsoft headquarters are all only 5 minutes away from the convention center.
    • but I was surprised that after all of the Penny-Arcade comics about World of Warcraft that Bilzzard wasn't there

      That's probably because Blizzard has its own convention, Blizzcon [blizzcon.com], happening at the end of October, and either don't want to spare the resources to have a presence at another con so close to it (and yet quite far from Blizzard's offices in Irvine), or don't want to divide the attention of their fans.

  • by Effugas ( 2378 ) * on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @01:10PM (#13437442) Homepage
    OK, seriously, _you_ show me another concert that starts out with classical piano, moves onto nerdcore hiphop, and finishes up with metal -- with the audience equally pleased with all three.

    Now have two of them, two nights in a row. Rawk.

    Couple amusing highlights:
    • Bawls is going hardcore. They had a...brace for it...Bawls Slurpee Machine [doxpara.com]. And It Was Good. As if that was not enough...there were some sort of caffeinated yet vaguely carbonated Bawls Pillform [doxpara.com] spawned in a pitcher that would be poured into confused but curious hands. Yum.
    • Take Defcon. Swap Hackers for Gamers. Swap Hot Vegas for Overcast Washington. Swap Feds for...I dunno...Nintendo? Still, the entire thing had the feel of an Alternate Reality Defcon, replete with everyone just so damn happy to be around so many other people who understood them. I mean, just look at Phil [doxpara.com] here. Happy! (A wink to anyone who sees the very subtle Defcon reference.)
    • At Penny Arcade Expo, cosplay girl [doxpara.com] photograph YOU (in Defcon T-Shirt).
    • Best coat check evar [doxpara.com]

    Still, I cannot get over the concerts. Before the Saturday night show began, it was unveiled that there'd be a special act...see, there was this huge gaming competition called the Omegathon, and a mystery game had been decided upon...Karaoke Revolution...with 1700 geeks assembled to watch.

    Bet Konami never planned for this.

    For those not familiar with Karaoke Revolution, it's basically a game where you're scored on how well your pitch matches what the game tells you you're supposed to be singing. Now, gamers generally do not sing, but it's 2005 and it's time to expand the market (and the eyeballs of these poor geeks that just want to win every NES game ever released). With 1700 people cheering on, we watched...

    Two possible reactions:

    1) Complete withdrawl
    2) Complete insanity

    The second was entertaining in its own right, but the first was best represented by...Leroy [doxpara.com]. Now, these are gaming geeks. Gamers + Leroy = LeeeeROYYYYYYYY! [fileplanet.com]. To say he was cheered on would be an understatement...and to say he didn't take it so well...so the guy's about three fourth through the round, and hasn't managed to sing a single note right. Finally, after much struggling, he gets...one note right. He's on the board! Applause thunders through the audience!


    OK. Maybe you had to be there. But it was a truly magical moment.

    But about the actual concerts.

    Both the Video Game Pianist and Connie Lin were incredible, and MC Chris [doxpara.com] was more insane than I had any right to expect...but the real surprise, for me anyway, was MC Frontalot [frontalot.com]. I'd say all sorts of stuff about him, but just grab the single [untimelydeath.com]. His CD is great, try not to get it off Bittorrent. Cool guy, too. [doxpara.com]

    It wasn't all hype and noise. Actually just sitting down with a random geek and playing Soul Caliber 2 for the first time in ages was just pure fun. And seeing the faces of all these kids see

  • (cw) = Clan Walrus (Score:3, Informative)

    by kshakir ( 875212 ) <slashdot@kshakiCOLAr.org minus caffeine> on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @01:25PM (#13437608)

    ...in case any other n00bs like myself were wondering.

    This post [slashdot.org] from their interview a while back points to their Clan's [penny-arcade.com] site [uswest.net].
  • by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @02:15PM (#13438090) Homepage Journal
    If they're always being asked what (CW) means, why not fill the rest of us in?
  • I'd have to say that PAX05 was one of the greatest geek events I've been to. Some of the highlights: The sheer number of different things to do there never left you bored. Between Consol free play, the many different tournaments (Halo 2, Super Smash Bros Melee, Omegathon...) and 4 floors dedicated to gaming left few to be desired.
    Turbine pulled out the biggest surprise of all, by hosting a 21 and over event at the Doubletree on Friday night, where they provided free food and drinks to any PAX attendee me
    • Also I forgot to Mention. A few of the attendees of the Turbine event were given invites to Beta Test the new D&D Online game. what a great opportunity I'd say. Sean, a friend I met there one his by imitation a Gelatinous Cube in Monster Manual Charades, while another hardcore games won two tickets to Beta Test (one for him & his wife) by rolling a natural 20 against the DM. At the end of it all Turbine threw a bunch of swag to the audience. I caught a T-shirt... Lucky!
  • Photos (Score:5, Informative)

    by MrScience ( 126570 ) on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @03:11PM (#13438553) Homepage
    I'm trying to get everyone to use the PAX05 [flickr.com] tag on flickr. There are around 450 pictures so far.

    I've personally uploaded around 150 of the 1700 I took, and threw together a quick page hosting a few panoramas [darkphibre.com] (wait a few days to download the large versions where possible, I don't know if they really meant unlimited bandwidth. :).
    • By the way, I hate you for how good your photos look. :) I had a hard time getting anything but blurs in the dim light. (My Canon PowerShot S400 has no aperture control.)

      http://www.photozeit.com/PAX2005/ [photozeit.com]
      • Thank you, I think. :) I probably threw out half the concert/macro photos I took due to blur. The rest are pick-and-choose to get the right pose/lighting combo. I was thinking about taking concert photos professionally for a while, and had some opportunity to practice with a coworker's band a couple years ago, the experience of which definitely improved the keeper ratio.

        Canon 10D
        50mm f1.4 (200-400 speed) for when I was in the front
        30-80mm f4 (800 speed) for medium range/"wide" angle
        100-300mm f3.5
      • Presumably the S400 was auto setting itself to ISO 400 and it's minimum aperture, 2.8, but that still will require maybe a 1/10th second exposure. My A510 has manual controls and a f2.6 minimum, but MrScience's f1.4 is the real key to low light photos without a tripod.
    • heh, best. costume. ever. [flickr.com]
  • My own review. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Grey Ninja ( 739021 ) on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @03:35PM (#13438704) Homepage Journal
    I posted this elsewhere, but I think it's fitting here too. I just got home from PAX 05 [pennyarcadexpo.com], which I have to say was incredible. First, let me give you a run down on what all happened there. (SPOILER: Nintendo stole the fuck out of the show).

    1) Exhibitions. Same sort of shit you see at E3, but on a smaller scale. Nintendo was present with just about all of their games that I have been wanting to play for a while (including the new Zelda). Microsoft was present with a chance to enter into a beta testing program, and a free copy of their new MS Office product. (I passed on both of those, as I have no desire for either). Sony was present in a small fashion with playable demos for about 5 or 6 of their new games. (Exact games elude me... I didn't play them, but I did pick up the discs that they were giving out). Ubisoft also had most of their lineup present. That included a bunch of Xbox games I could give a rat's ass about (but they had an airplane game that looked fun), and a trailer for Prince of Persia 3. The Army was present with a table full of shuttle PCs LANed together playing AA, and a hummer and a full set of soldier gear (including kevlar) that people could try on (I tried on the armor, and picked up a pressed AA CD, and a lanyard). There was also a sort of cool VR thing where you were walking around in a sphere (It proved to me once and for all that VR is an absolutely horrible idea.) Other things present included FEAR, Torque, Tabletop RPG things, and the usual assortment of merchandise for sale at such things (I picked up a T-shirt or two, a PAX 04 DVD (good memories), and the Penny Arcade book.)

    2) Panels. One of the really great things about PAX is the panels that are going on pretty much all the time. Basically, they get members of the industry to get up in front of a few thousand people and answer questions. There were also other things, such as a chance to beat the pros at their own games (I beat a Soul Calibur II Pro and won a $50 gift certificate at EB) and of course... the classic screening of "The Wizard".

    3) Music. The closest thing to a hippie music festival for gamers. Well, maybe not. They had a couple of people play way too much Final Fantasy on the piano, and a few very very horrible rappers. But NESkimos and the Minibosses simply kicked ass.

    4) Community. PAX 05 might have been pretty boring if you were a PSP owner (and you probably would have had a hard time getting multiplayer going... there were a good 10 DSs for every PSP). But believe me when I tell you that PictoChat was DESIGNED for events like that. For 3 days, there was a continuously running pictochat conversation. This was especially handy during things such as panels or the music concerts, as it was our way of providing running commentary on things. (and drawing penii). You also meet many interesting people such as Eyes5 [deviantart.com], who can make PictoChat do absolutely insane things. I wish I could have saved some of her drawings. She was also quite the gamer... I was simply shocked to see 4:30 spent on Nintendogs when it was only out a few days beforehand... The dog knew about 20 tricks, and had won like every competition.

    If any of you were at PAX, and owned a DS, you might remember me as PAX_Dave, who was serving E3 demos from his laptop at odd times during the convention. Late on the first day, I had grown very very proud of all the DS owners around (PSP owners were a VERY small minority), and I wanted to do something special, so I began hosting demos such as Jump Superstars, Submarine Tech Demo, Zelda trailer, and Trauma Center, as well as some homebrew. It became a common event for me to set up my laptop during a panel, or in the speakeasy booth and let my fellow DS fans have at her.

    5) Nintendo. Let me list a few items. Zelda: Twilight Princess, Metroid: Hunters, Mario Kart DS, Viewtiful Joe DS, Castlevania DS, Met
    • by startled ( 144833 ) on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @04:39PM (#13439096)
      3) Music. The closest thing to a hippie music festival for gamers. Well, maybe not. They had a couple of people play way too much Final Fantasy on the piano, and a few very very horrible rappers. But NESkimos and the Minibosses simply kicked ass.

      I don't think there was any way to tell if the rappers were any good, since the sound sucked. Sucked, sucked, sucked. I don't know if it was the room, the equipment, the techs (or lack thereof), or a horrible combination of all that. Any time anyone attempted to sing or speak over music with any bass, it was totally distorted and buried.

      I hope they fix that next year. The rest of the conference was friggin' sweet, but any artists with vocals got the shaft..

      But believe me when I tell you that PictoChat was DESIGNED for events like that.

      Like you, I also wish there were a way to save some of those drawings. Eyes5 was nuts. OTOH, I wish I could erase all the horrible, horrible cock pictures from my mind. Every image was turned into a dick. Samus shooting a beam? Now it's Samus shooting a dick. Link wearing a cap? Now it's Link wearing a dick. Just a picture of a dick? Now it's a dick with two dicks on it. If Pictochat were truly designed for events like this, it would have a penis filter.

  • Has anyone noticed how much many of the comments here reflect the Tycho/Gabe writing style? Apparently they're having quite an influence.
  • by MacGod ( 320762 )
    He's fast, witty and very entertaining, even when they have to answer the question about where the (cw) in their nicknames comes from for what must have been the 103rd time of the weekend.

    So, for those of us that weren't there, where does the (cw) come from? What does it mean?

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.