The 20-sided Blog

Last weekend we went on an awesome series of adventures in Seattle, visiting Penny Arcade Expo 2010 and the SEGA PAXtravaganza. This rather lengthy entry details out what we did as part of our main PAX quests and several sidequests as well.

Entry #1 6:00PM –

We’re waiting for our flight to Seattle. One of our friends was nice enough to bring us to SFO and we ate dinner at Go Bistro, an Asian Fusion restaurant in the Domestic terminal near our gate. We had a minor accident when one of my wife’s bags bumped a glass of beer that the customer at the table next to us was drinking. He and his wife took it in stride which was nice. No real harm, just a broken glass and some wet clothes for the customer. I had the Go Bistro Fried Rice which is fried rice with chunks of ham, pineapple, scrambled egg, onions, peas and carrots. My wife had the Teriyaki Chicken Bowl. The service was slower than I expected but the food was okay. It was a bit overpriced which is expected at the airport.

We’re around three hours away from setting down at SEATAC. We’re going to take the light rail train from the airport to University Street station in downtown Seattle and then walk three blocks to our hotel. I figure we’ll just check in and pass out for the night. My wife may have other plans.

The wifi here at SFO is supposed to be free now. IE won’t connect and Firefox just pulls up the pay-as-you-go T Mobile. Oh well. I’m not paying.

I don’t know if we have internet access at our hotel or anywhere else while we are in Seattle. That means this blog may just end up being all in Notepad and uploaded later.

Entry #2 10:00PM –

We arrived safely at SEATAC after waiting around for a while for people to board the plane, listening to a kid annoy his really obnoxious parents and dozing for a bit. Then we got to wait for everyone to offboard the plane and walk to the light rail station.

More beer spilling occurred on the plane when obnoxious parent got spilled on when he was trying to pass his mostly full cup to the stewardess to dispose of.

I played some Little Big Planet on my PSP. I am enjoying its cross between Sonic the Hedgehog platformer, puzzle game, Katamari Damacy environment and creativity palette. I can see why developers are basing games off of it now.

We tried to follow the TARDIS signs in the airport but it turned out they were for food and gifts. Instead we followed the interterminal shuttle signs until I realized we were going the wrong way and we went to follow the other icon that looked like a train, which took us to the Light Rail station.

Our light rail just departed for downtown Seattle, where my wife says the three block hike to our hotel will be uphill both ways.

Entry #3 11:00PM –

We got to our hotel at the exact time that I thought we would. While checking in, they had complimentary peach water in the lobby. It tasted odd even though I used to drink Wal-Mart’s version all of the time.

We are three blocks from anything PAX related and about a block away from Rock Bottom Brewery.

Now what?

Addendum 11:20PM –

Despite the in-room wifi costing $10.95 a day, going downstairs one floor to the lobby has free wifi. That seems normal for Hilton hotels sadly.

They seem to be having a PAX Enforcers meeting here in the lobby. Their badges are different than ours.

My wife is really sleepy, so now that we’ve retrieved more peach water, we’re off to bed.

7:00AM

After a mostly restless night, we rode the elevator to the top floor of our hotel to enjoy a nice breakfast buffet. It is eerily quiet. I have bacon, eggs, potatoes, waffle and banana. For dessert I grabbed an apricot danish. My wife had strawberries, one she even shared with me, eggs, potatoes, bacon and some kind of sausage with relish.

8:00AM

After taking us around four blocks out of the way (my bad) we are now 7th and 8th in line for the Rock Band 3 panel at the Sheraton. The first 40 people in line get concert wristbands for tonight’s show at Benaroya Hall, so we should be good. Now two hours of quality time with my PSP…

9:30AM

Bop-It, a beach ball, Uno, some dice games, many PSP, DS and iPhones, an Ewok and Waldo. That’s what line has been like thus far. We got wristbands for tonight’s Protomen, Anamanaguchi, Metroid Metal and Minibosses show. We got Rockbandaide.com Rock Bands as our first swag of the day.

2:00PM

The Rock Band 3 Q&A was only a panel with no gameplay sadly. It was still fun and proved that PAX is “for mature audiences only.”

Post-panel, we decided to brave the exhibit hall and my wife and I each played Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep at the Square Enix booth for a few minutes. We were playing as Aqua and it appears there are two other characters, Terra and Ven who we could also have chosen to play as. We were in Disney Town (seriously, they named a level after a Mono song?). There were also links to Winnie the Pooh, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. The game plays like a Kingdom Hearts game should play and I’m excited to acquire it later this month.

I got a Torchlight 2 tee shirt as we walked through the door headed toward the Hothead Games booth, where I got some hands-on time with the new DeathSpank Thongs of Virtue game. I played a bit of the POW level and watched a demo, answering a trivia question with Lord Von Prong being the correct answer. I got a real life Unicorn Poop tee shirt for my correct answer. The Hothead Games booth was our favorite of the day. We also got buttons for a game they are doing where you can win a tee shirt or some concept art. I’d love some concept art. That’d be really cool. My wife tried in vain to get a purple thong, but there’s still two more days to try.

My wife tried a pretty awful game called Drumskulls which was zombies walking toward you in a Drive In theater with you using an Ion Drum Kit to fight back against them. We watched some folks play Rock Band 3 at the Mad Catz booth and at the Harmonix booth but didn’t wait in the hour line to play ourselves.

We met James Silva and Dustin from Ska Studios and played through their demo of The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile. We got some cool I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES 1NIT!!!1 buttons and my wife got a tee shirt from their booth.

We had lunch in the exhibit hall’s queue room at the cafe. We split a 5 piece chicken strip and fries and a small Sprite. Ahh, convention food… how I haven’t missed you.

Now to our next panel, which is a QA Tester panel.

6:00PM

After the QA Tester panel, we got more buttons and watched the Swarm demo at the Hothead Games booth. We then braved Harmonix’s line for Rock Band 3 for over an hour, which actually passed by pretty fast because we were watching others play the game the whole time we were waiting. We had ticket number 145 and they were on 103 when we got there. A lot of people were just taking tickets and leaving, which made the open spots go by quickly. We ended up playing Roxette’s “The Look” which was a lot of fun and well worth the wait.

Now we are in line for the Going Indie panel with James Silva and Ron Alpert, among other cool indie developers. James made The Dishwasher and I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES 1NIT!!!1. Ron made 180, which is the only game I’ve ever bought on my iPod.

8:00PM

We grabbed a personal sized pepperoni pizza on the way out of the Going Indie panel, which had great and talented people on the panel, but a horrible set of prepared questions from the moderator. We’re finally in Benaroya Hall for the first time. I have wanted to visit this place for many years, as Pearl Jam used to play here on occasion. The Triple Door is across the street. We’ve wanted to go there for a few years as well, since Vienna Teng started playing there. We’ll see her at Bumbershoot on Sunday. For now, we’re seeing The Protomen, Anamanaguchi, Metroid Metal and Minibosses in a really cool venue which is awesome.

Addendum (2:20AM)

The concert didn’t let out until around 1:30. I didn’t care for The Protomen. I really liked Anamanaguchi and Minibosses. Metroid Metal would have been good too if I wasn’t so tired. Metroid Metal even had a metroid egg on stage in the form of a giant balloon with felt glued to it. It ended up in the audience and eventually broken up into pieces sadly. The concert was the end of a pretty long day. I’m feeling pretty weak but am very thankful that my wife went grocery shopping and got some granola bites, trail mix and nutrigrain bars before we left for Seattle. I really needed them when we got back to the hotel. I’ve transferred 31GB of photos and footage thus far with another 8 or so to add to it. Saturday isn’t as big of an agenda based on what I know so far. It looks like we may try to see the Wil Wheaton panel(s). Otherwise, I’d like to just explore the exhibit hall. They have a bunch of not-yet-released games. Hell, even Duke Nukem Forever is being demoed. We all know that game is NEVER coming out, right? I’d like to check out the Mortal Kombat game, Epic Mickey, Dragon Age 2 and a couple of other games. I’d love to go back to the Hothead Games booth and just spend a while there watching and playing their new games. I’d also like to maybe discover games I’d never find if we hadn’t gone to PAX. We’ll see what happens if, I mean when, we get up later this morning!

12:00PM

We woke up around 9:30 and spent some time getting ready. We ate an early lunch at Taco Del Mar in the convention center. We split a carnitas burrito. We stopped by the PAX merchandise booth in search of a PAX 2010 Swag Whore tee shirt, which sadly wasn’t available at the booth. Then we walked through the south end of the exhibit hall, passing by the Harmonix booth, the Ska Studios booth and the Mad Catz line on the way to the Hothead Games booth.

We successfully acquired our fourth button for their three day button collecting contest. My wife also got a thong of justice because she followed @HotheadGames on Twitter. The guy in charge of the Twitter had a brief conversation with us and we mentioned that Harmonix had a thong of justice on their suit of armor in their booth. My wife even showed him photographic evidence. He mentioned that the two developers have an annual party at PAX they call Hotmonix and are all fans of each other’s games. That’s really cool.

Now we are in the World of Farmcraft panel.

5:30PM

The World of Farmcraft panel was actually pretty good after a somewhat disappointing Harmonix Rock Band 3 panel, a “can I have a job?” filled QA Tester Q&A and a badly planned out and moderated Going Indie panel yesterday. At least this one had structure, even though there wasn’t that much content. They discussed social, casual and MMO games and the guy on the end that kept making jokes reminded me a bit of Bill Murray. The panel itself didn’t really give much away that you couldn’t figure out on your own, but it wasn’t a bad way to spend an hour.

Post-panel, we did a couple of side quests. We did the Dolby Axon scavenger hunt where we visited four booths and got four different colored buttons. Then we walked past the huge line for personal Epic Mickey sketches and tried to get a Blue Gel bag that Nintendo is using to promote Dragon Quest IX at their booth. They were out of them for the day. We got in the Metroid Other M line to play a demo and get tee shirts. They also have costumes and a metroid egg from the Metroid Other M TV commercial on display. We were in line for about as long as we were to play Rock Band 3 and now my wife has two cool tee shirts. So far there haven’t really been any cool tee shirts for me in my size available.

We almost attempted the Nvidia Crank That S#!t Up scavenger hunt contest as well, but it would have involved giving our email addresses to six companies and watching six different demos to get a lousy tee shirt.

We stopped by the Pegasus Theatre in the Sheraton to see if we could camp in the room if we got in line at 3:00 for the G4 Panel before the Wil Wheaton panel, which starts at 6:30. They said that they were going to clear the room in between each panel, so that would have been pointless. We decided to have a good meal, and headed to The Cheesecake Factory, which is a great place to replenish Health.

I had the Factory Burger. My wife had chicken croquettes and fried macaroni and cheese and we split a salad. We also split a piece of a new dessert that isn’t yet on the menu. It consisted of a bunch of layers, the top being a chocolate and peanut butter topped cheesecake, followed by a thin layer of caramel and some chocolate fudge cake. There were several iterations of that with some peanuts and Reese’s peanut butter cups inside. Very tasty. My wife mentioned that a raspberry drizzle on the plate would be the only thing that could have made it better and I agree.

We retreated to our hotel for a bit after that and now we’ll head back to the convention center and potentially to the Sega party at Game Works.

12:30AM

We got back to the Exhibition Hall and headed to the PAX 10 booth, which consists of 10 indie-developed games that PAX considers the best out now or coming soon. They highlight ten a year, and I wanted to try out games I had never heard of. The first game that was available to try was called Shibuya, which is an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch game that is sort of like a simplified version of Tetris where you place colored lines and try to match up two or more in a row. It was actually pretty dull and lame unfortunately. My wife thought so too. As we finished playing that game they announced that the exhibit hall was closing for the night… an hour earlier than I expected. I watched someone trying out Bastion, which looks like a very cool game. It kind of looks like Braid graphics-wise, looks like it plays a bit like Lego Star Wars and felt like I was watching a dream being constructed in Inception. It isn’t out yet, but I’ll definitely try to play it tomorrow at the booth. I also saw Hegemony: Philip of Macedon, which had a guy dressed up like Caesar presenting it. The game looked like the old Real-Time Strategy game called Caesar and seems to play like it as well. I’ll pass as I’m not that big on RTS games and if I wanted to play Caesar, I’d pick up the original. Solace, a rhythm shooter that looks very similar to Rez gets rejected by me because it looks and plays very familiar. I like Rez, even sometimes playing Rez HD++ on my XBox 360, but for someone to basically make a carbon copy of it I’m not interested. I was also disappointed that Retro City Rampage, formerly Grand Theftendo, is now a Nintendo WiiWare exclusive. This saddens me as I don’t really like the Wii, but I’ll probably pick it up anyway once it becomes available. Retro City Rampage is an 8-bit translation of Grand Theft Auto 3 essentially, but rewritten to also be a homage to the 8-bit era. The other game I caught a bit of gameplay of was Super Meat Boy, which looks really cool.

Unfortunately they kicked us out after we played Shibuya, so tomorrow I hope to get a bit of hands on time with the other titles.

After getting unexpectedly turned out of the convention center, we got in line for the SEGA PAXtravaganza party across the street at Game Works. The party was open to the public, not just PAX attendees, and the line when we got there was already pretty long. While in line, a pickup truck drove by a few times throwing out tee shirts that had invites to the Namco Bandai party at Neumo’s. I got one. There was also a bus dropping people off at the hotel across the street with the destination card lit up in the front saying Wrong Bus. Oh, and there is a billboard truck that is advertising Guild Wars 2 that keeps circling PAX as well. I got that on camera as well. Around 7:40, we got pink SEGA 21 and over wristbands, Sonic the Hedgehog lanyards, a 2 hour unlimited video game + 30 credits for prize/ticket games Game Works card, a drink ticket and a raffle ticket. A little after 8, they let us in.

We dropped our tickets into the raffle bucket and I grabbed a buffalo wing and a potato skin. They had a ton of food and drink available. We played Tekken Tag Tournament, Frogger, Arkanoid Returns, Robotron 2084, South Park Pinball, Skee Ball, Ms Pac Man, a strange Sponge Bob SquarePants jumping game, Chip Away and a bunch of token games. We got a set of dominoes, a kaleidoscope, some Sonic the Hedgehog Game Works stickers, a hacky sack and a little green toy army man when we redeemed our 265 tickets. Cash Cash, the band that did the theme song for Sonic Colors, a new game coming out soon, played in the downstairs bar. They did a cover of Jay-Z’s version of Forever Young, their Sonic Colors theme song and a couple of other tunes. They brought out dessert around 9:45 and did the big prize raffle at 10. Just after ten, during the raffle, it was our turn to play a newer Namco Bandai game called Tank! Tank! Tank! which is described as a Motion Cabinet-Battle Party Game. It was a ton of fun. They even take your picture so your avatar is your face with a funny hat or mask of your choice. I wish we had been able to play it some more but my game card was up when we finished that game.

We went over to check out the raffle board and my wife came back discouraged that her ticket wasn’t a winner. I handed her mine and she came back over and said that I had won!

The one thing that I really wanted from PAX was the limited edition sweatshirt that was only publicly available at the SEGA PAXtravaganza and only really available if I won a prize. I wanted that sweatshirt so badly that I intentionally left my hoodie at home and came to Seattle jacketless. By winning that raffle, I won the sweatshirt I wanted!

Next I had to claim my prize. A very cool and happy gentlemen in front of me in the prize redemption line had a winning ticket that won a Sega Saturn console, some games, a very rare Saturn joystick and some other swag. He too was ecstatic to get the shirt. We took his picture with his winning ticket next to his prize on the prize board and I just sent it to him via email. I won the Shadow the Hedgehog Prize Pack #1.

I asked for the biggest sweatshirt they had and an XL sweatshirt fits me really well. I am very happy to have won the shirt. Don’t really care about the plush hedgehog that is getting mailed to me. I’m extremely happy with my hooded sweatshirt prize!

After 20 minutes or so of me beaming and gloating excitedly about my prize hooded sweatshirt, we walked back to the convention center and watched some freeplay Rock Band 3.

We came back to our hotel and have hung out in the lobby ever since, watching the Rift party wind down and me writing this blog entry, my wife doing some actual work online.

Despite Saturday being a pretty underwhelming PAX day, the SEGA party was great and well worth the couple of hours in line.

Sunday, the 20 sided blog goes away and my normal blog returns. We bid farewell to PAX after some time in the exhibit hall trying to complete our Hothead Games swag quest and checking out and playtesting a few games. Then we head to Seattle Center, probably by Taxi, to Bumbershoot and a side stage headlining set by Vienna Teng Trio.

9:45AM

Our time at PAX has almost come to an end. That sped up music as the clock winds down on a Super Mario Bros level is playing in my head. We have so much more to do and so little time.

Okay so really we could skip today and still have had a pretty full PAX experience. Here’s a partial plan of attack for PAX Sunday, which leads directly into Bumbershoot Sunday afternoon/evening:

* Obtain last Swarm button at the Hothead Games booth
* Playtest Star Wars The Old Republic and get a tee shirt at the LucasArts Booth
* Play more of the PAX 10 indie titles
* Check out the SEGA booth to see if we can obtain even more kickass swag from them
* Play the demo of Duke Nukem Forever
* Obtain a tee shirt at the Guild Wars 2 booth
* Visit the Dragon Age 2 booth
* Find the cure for ConSARS for my wife so she doesn’t infect the masses at Bumbershoot

(Please note, ConSARS is not an actual disease, but some type of role playing game that my wife became a Carrier in)

* Obtain transport to Seattle Center
* Meet up with our friend that is taping Vienna Teng Trio tonight
* Pick up our Bumbershoot passes
* See a rocking performance or two or three
* ???
* Profit

1:45AM

Running through the list:

I played Plane Jumper at the PAX 10 booth. Not impressed because it is very difficult to manuever through. It seems like a good concept, but I got frustrated with the controls and the camera quickly and gave up.

We skipped the long and winding line for Duke Nukem Forever. It really wasn’t worth it for a few minute demo.

My wife took a SEGA card that she doesn’t think she was supposed to take, but all of the other swag at the SEGA booth was stuff we got at last night’s party.

They were out of tee shirts at the Guild Wars booth and were giving out these stupid little scarves instead. I got in line but quickly abandoned it because I saw no reason to get a lame little scarf.

We obtained the last Swarm button and could have entered to win some cool concept art from DeathSpank and Swarm if we went back to the Hothead Games booth at 4:00. We couldn’t do that because we wanted to be at Bumbershoot at 4:00 across town. My wife earned a DeathSpank tee shirt which she gave to me, so we each have a DeathSpank shirt. Yay!

I got a “one ring” replica from Turbine at the Lord of the Rings Online side of their booth. My wife kept trying to take it from me but I wouldn’t let go of my precious.

My wife got in the Nintendo/Dragon Quest IX line to get a blue slime bag. It was apparently highly collectable as I saw two different guys offering money, one offering $10, the other offering $20 to people that had stood in line and gotten them. THe people told them to get in line. I did see a Hothead Games developer cut the line and trade two DeathSpank tee shirts for a bag. Cross pollination of game developers is cool.

While my wife was in line, I played Star Wars The Old Republic for a few minutes. It wasn’t really any different than playing Knights of the Old Republic. I was glad that they kept some of the gameplay elements but it didn’t feel like they innovated much at least in the demo campaign that I selected. They were not giving out tee shirts at their booth.

I also got my picture taken at the Tera booth wearing a Tera tee shirt that my sister-in-law got for me at Games Developers Conference in San Francisco a few months back. I found it odd that the developers at PAX were jealous of my shirt, saying they didn’t even have one because they hadn’t been at the company when the game was presented at GDC. I guess their company has expanded drastically.

I watched some people playing Epic Mickey. While it seems “epic” it doesn’t seem to control intuitively, which is a problem that plagues a significant number of Wii titles. I’m kind of sad that it and Sonic Colors are both Wii exclusives.

I watched someone play Tron Evolution for a bit. It suffers from the wide open world with nothing telling you where to go so you get lost and can’t advance the game anywhere problem that a lot of open world games have. Maybe it was just that the guy went too far off of the beaten path, but there was no direction on the screen of where he should go. I was excited for the game and now I’m setting myself up for disappointment.

My wife successfully got her blue slime bag (poop bag get!) and we were done.

I forgot to stop by the Dragon Age booth but we did get their swag, a blow up sword, on Friday.

We said goodbye and wished the Hothead developers luck in their Best of PAX nomination for DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue. We called our friend who offered to meet us for lunch to set up a place to meet. He needed a little while to figure that out, so we found the ConSARS booth to find out that there IS NO CURE. So my wife is doomed to be a carrier for the rest of her convention going life sadly.

We went to the Rock Band 3 Freeplay area, which is where our PAX experience would end. My wife closed out our version of PAX 2010 singing the Chicago hit “25 or 6 to 4″ with a band that needed someone to fill in on vocals and we headed back to our hotel to begin our Bumbershoot adventure.

We met our friend at our hotel and we walked down to The Triple Door and found they didn’t serve lunch. We ended up eating next door at Wild Ginger, an Asian fusion restaurant. The food was amazing there. I had the Mandarin chicken. My wife had the lemon grass chicken satay. Our friend had two types of dim sum and we split some potstickers. I was very impressed with the food and the service and atmosphere were top notch as well. We got a 20% discount off of our order because we were PAX attendees which made the meal an even better value. I also saw the Guild Wars 2 billboard truck actually PARKED next to Benaroya Hall. It began circling again a few minutes later.

After our great lunch adventure, we walked toward the convention center in search of a taxi. We hopped in one and were dropped off at Easy Street Records, a couple of blocks from Bumbershoot. We saw some rocking performances and I assisted the Vienna Teng Trio in making a profit by filling in the ? with “run all of our merch to the main FYE booth halfway across Seattle Center and then run back to settle at the end of the night, then bring us the cash back.”

We accomplished much of what we set out to do. This is a very good thing.

I’m kind of sad to see the 20 sided blog go, but PAX is now over and it is time to switch gears for the BumberBlog.

NOTE: The original entry had a comment from Hank: “Good news, Retro City Rampage isn’t a WiiWare exclusive.”

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