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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Dinosaur Poo and Pizza Rolls at PAX East

Today's the last day of PAX East Boston. The next PAX event is PAX Dev in Seattle, Washington on August 31st and September 1st. PAX West is supposed to follow but is not listed on the Penny Arcade site as such. There is also PAX Aus in November in Melbourne, Australia if you want to travel a bit. Even though my feet are literally killing me, I had fun and can't wait until next year's show.

First off, while tickets sold out in minutes, it seemed like anyone I knew who wanted to get a ticket was able to get one. There seemed to be a great secondary market for tickets and there was enough supply that tickets were even going at face value. In front of the venue, I even saw a bunch of conference attendees with extra tickets available.

My favorite hardware of the show was easily the HTC Vive VR headset. I didn't get a chance to try the PlayStation VR setup, but I much preferred the stand-up VR immersion with the Vive over the sit down experience with the Oculus Rift. I even earned a high score in the Space Pirate Trainer game I got to try out (with NewEgg pictured above). I could easily play that for hours on end. If you haven't seen a demo of the space game, please do. Google Cardboard is no comparison but is actually a great way to try out the technology for a fraction of the cost
A popular giveaway from the show was some stuffed dinosaur poop from the gang at ARK. ARK: Survival of the Fittest (SotF) is the new M.O.S.A. built for the burgeoning wild west of eSports. Set within the Jurassic environment that players loved in ARK: Survival Evolved, players fight each other in this epic dinosaur survival arena, all set within a continually shrinking “ring of death,” where, in the end, only one “Tribe” will make it out alive. I had the chance to chat with co-founder Jesse Rapczak. The game itself is an early access game on STEAM and will come out on July 19th for the PS4. It currently has no monetization strategy in place at the moment and the company is literally paying people to play in tournaments. Register for their Season 1 Summer Cup and you might qualify to win a trip to China. ARK had the 16 foot dinosaur that everyone was getting their picture taken with.
Being on the media list, I got lots of press releases. Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan was one of the games that caught my eye. The story behind the company is what I found most interesting. The game is an African RPG from the first Central African development team on Steam. The game has an interesting cultural story line but what I found most interesting is how it was developed under challenging situations including power shutdowns and restrictive internet access, and how during the downtimes the developers would have to stop coding and instead tell each other stories. The game definitely pays homage to the culture and legacy of Africa. I didn't schedule an appointment here but just showed up. Being a small company, I can definitely see they were not as prepared to deal with press.
The show featured all sorts of hardware and software companies. The bigger hardware companies like Microsoft and Intel put out all the stops to showcase what they offered. The smaller companies did the same. One company I ran across, OCZ, looked to be on the smaller size, as they were literally just a single table, but was purchased by Toshiba in 2013. They had some nice SSD hardware to consider if you're looking to speedup your game play. I like how large SSD drives are getting.
About those pizza rolls... The gang at Totino's had a bucking couch for you to play video games on. Imagine sitting on a rocking and twisting couch while playing and having to turn and twist to keep your eyes on the video screen. I liked the free food. It was fun to watch people try to do well at the games. Some people really cared how they did with the games. Others, just had fun on the couch.

I'll try to highlight more from the show as the week goes on. If you like gaming and can make it to Boston in April, it is a fun place to be.


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