PAX Day Two: Operation Face Punch

By Mumbles Posted Sunday Sep 5, 2010

Filed under: Nerd Culture 46 comments


Well hello, internet. Day two of PAX has been wrestled, put into submission and then shook down for lunch money. Josh is currently nursing a terrible foot injury from all the bunny hopping, so I’m here to give you lovely people the run down of Saturday. For those who don’t know who I am, my name is Mumbles and I’m the newest addition to the Spoiler Warning team. I also punched a guy in the face today, but we’ll get to that in a second.

After enjoying a twenty dollar Belgium waffle breakfast and teaching Josh a real-life mini game called “Make Sure Mumbles Doesn’t Wander Off”, we arrived at the convention center as it opened and immediately booked it to the Civilization 5 booth to sign up for a presentation. The next plan of attack was to wait in the Duke Nukem line, but it had already snaked around the booth and down the side of the convention hall. While part of me really wanted to wait in a soul crushing line like that, I didn’t want to after working myself into a delirious state the day before (which ended with me yelling at an elevator door as I curled up in a ball) . I had heard stories about the long lines at PAX, like a fisherman would hear stories of alluring mermaids that sent ships into jagged rocks, but I refused to be bested by it. There’s so many different ways to attack the monster of a video game convention and my playstyle did not include waiting five hours for one big joy ride.

We wandered around until deciding to meet up with a 20sided reader who worked on the Tera game. It is an action-packed MMO that was originally made in Korea, but is being developed by a very enthusiastic American team for Western distribution. I loved the different ideas for professions and totally dug the combat system that involved a good deal of dodging and combos. I was very glad to see the game moved away from the usual MMO targeting system that has always bored me to tears. I really enjoyed rolling around enemies as a little dog-raccoon warrior, which totally brought new flavor to a usually very typical class.

Next, we checked out Monaco and Spy Party, both of which are my favorite indie games at PAX. Spy Party is a very cool little game where one player controls a sniper and the other tries to carry out a mission as a spy without being killed first. The point of the game is to try and act like the AI to the point where the other player can’t tell the difference between what is computer and player controlled. Monaco, the other little indie game next door, was a really entertaining four player game where you play a group of burglars that break into various high security buildings, complete an objective and then get the hell out. It’s been a while since I’ve played a game with other people sitting right next to me, so it was very high energy with a crowd behind us cheering everyone on. At one point, I had almost been caught by some angry guards and a blood thirsty hound, but managed to get out by the skin of my teeth. I was so excited that I did a fist pump into the air, which actually smacked a guy in the face behind me. Remember kiddies, it’s not a convention until someone gets face punched.

The Civilization 5 presentation gave exactly what playing thirty minutes of the demo couldn’t: A Giant Robot. Josh is going to go into lengthy detail about it later, but I have to say the game is gorgeous and way more newbie friendly than the previous games. The good news for more tech and culture based players is the new ways win a game besides taking over the world Pinky and the Brain style. Also, there’s been a lot of work put into making sure the AI act like actual players while maintaining the personalities of the historical figures we all love.

Did we mention the Nvidia Booth is awesome because of all the games you can play in 3D without waiting in huge lines? If you’re at PAX now, do yourself a favor and get the hell over there. They have Guild Wars 2, Dead Rising 2, Civilization 5 and even Fallout: New Vegas. I got the chance to play a good 20 minutes of Dead Rising 2 and it was actually a lot of fun. The first game completely destroyed my fear of zombies by hitting them over the head with hilarious weapons and this one is no different. You can actually craft items together to make stuff like a bat with nails in it or just search for stuff to kill zombies with on the casino floor. My personal favorite thing to do was push a wheelchair through a horde of zombies while dressed like Evil Kenevil.

The only downside of the booth is that when they start giving out swag, an entire mob of very excited people suddenly appears whilst screaming and reaching towards the booth like hungry zombies who just spotted rotten meat. I’m pretty sure Josh got smacked around and almost trampled to death in the process.


On Friday, we went to a panel that was pretty lack luster that had a lot of indie game developers hammering the message of “Making games is hard, but rewarding” into our skulls over and over, so I was worried the panels were going to follow suit. Luckily, the “Pitch a Game Idea” panel was the American Idol for nerds. People went up to the mic, pitched a stupid game like kittens that set people on fire and then competed for the “best” idea. Some people made the big mistake of pitching games that they had clearly thought about for a long time before they even made it to PAX. They were shot down pretty quickly and completely upstaged by hilarious ideas. The winner (and my personal favorite) was a game called Bee Cool wherein the lovely suburb you live in suddenly discovers you are actually a swarm of bees. I would play that game.

Finally, we went to the Star Wars presentation, featuring The Old Republic and Force Unleashed 2, in one of the coolest, Opera Style theaters I’ve ever been in. Did my ears almost break from the loudest lightsaber sound effect I’ve ever heard? It’s possible. Was it worth it? Totally.

We’ll have more information later that will include a fireside chat with Shamus and lots of in depth articles of the games we got to play later on this week. If you’ll excuse me, I have to go stand in line for Portal 2.



From The Archives:

46 thoughts on “PAX Day Two: Operation Face Punch

  1. Vipermagi says:

    Have, um, fun (?) standing in line. Can’t wait for that detailed report on GW2!

  2. Jarenth says:

    Sounds like that guy got what was coming to him.

  3. Nyaz says:

    Darn it, when you said you punched someone in the face, I assumed you were playing one of those Kinect-games where you flail around like an airtraffic controller covered in beetles.*

    * = Stolen from Yahtzee.

    EDIT: Wait, actually. That’s ALL OF THEM.

  4. X2-Eliah says:

    Ah, So mumbles can also do long texts. Good, good, random_internet_person_meaningless_approval +2. Though honestly, well-presented piece, there. I was hoping that the guy punched would turn out to be Josh himself, but oh well.

    No news on bioware so far?

  5. Jake says:

    I thought Duke Nukem Forever was cancelled.

    1. Veloxyll says:

      It got un-cancelled


      some more

      w/e (it also has a new developer)

      1. Irridium says:

        And all this developer is doing is polishing 13 years or so of work.

        1. MrWhales says:

          And all they are showing is the last boss of the previous game in shiny 3D….

    2. SatansBestBuddy says:

      Yeah, no, apparently the guys who were fired from the team just worked on the game in an apartment somewhere while tracking down old friends in the industry who’d be able to give them a hand getting the game released when it’s done.

      The CEO of Gearbox (can’t remember his name) was one of the guys who worked on Duke 3D, but left to form Gearbox before Duke 4 started, so they had some talks with him and he agreed to help them convince the publisher to release the game.

      The story is considerably more involved than that, and is well worth hunting down and reading up on all the details yourself.

      1. Will says:

        Basically, they’re still successfully trolling the entire gaming community.

        1. Matthew says:

          And now we’re being trolled by the people who created ClapTrap. Lovely.

          1. Josh R says:

            I’m sorry to break it to you, but we were always being trolled by the people that made claptrap.

  6. Heron says:

    What I saw of Fallout: New Vegas was very disappointing. It looks exactly like Fallout 3, except instead of everything being brown, everything is yellow. I didn’t think it was possible, but they actually managed to make a game that is less visually appealing than its predecessor…

    1. Zukhramm says:

      Exactly like Fallout 3 but with Obsidian writing the dialog, quests and story is enough to have me interested.

      1. Primogenitor says:

        Wait, Bethesda (broken, buggy, nonsensical) and Obsidian (broken, buggy, half-finished) together? That sounds like the ultimate “this could have been good but is actually terrible” combination.

        1. Irridium says:

          Thats what I’ve been saying since this game was announced.

          Its an Obsidian game on a Bethesda engine, meaning the story will be great(except for the ending), but the actual game will be filled with bugs.

          1. X2-Eliah says:

            In any case, we will at least get ‘Nukes fall, everyone dies’ – which is a tad better than rocks, don’t you think?

        2. The Defenestrator says:

          It can’t be, not without Paradox.

        3. Daemian Lucifer says:

          I laughed the hardest in one interview,when the guy said “We have people from bethesda with experience that will test for bugs before release.”So,obsidian will make a buggy game,and bethesda will test for those bugs…Oh yes,it will be a surprise if this game doesnt crash on the install screen.

          1. Kennet says:

            Just play it on the Xbox. That way you won’t have to install and you can play it happily all the way to the Character Creation screen before it crashes.

    2. Jep jep says:

      Suppose there’s only so many ways you can try to make a wasteland visually appealing. I actually like what I’ve seen from NV so far since there’s no green overhue tint to distort the natural colors (which while worked to a degree to set some ambiant atmosphere in FO3, I eventually started to get sick of it after enough hours to the game). It’s an actual desert area too this time, so even that alone probably limits the colours they could use.

    3. DancePuppets says:

      Remember, this is Obsidian, give them something and they will make it worse. In KOTOR, they were given an excellent game and franchise to ruin, in this case they have been given a franchise that is good, and are following a game that was not too bad, I dread to think what sort of monster they will produce…

      1. Roll-a-die says:

        I would argue that KotOR 1 was actually worse than KotOR 2. That’s even discarding the 1/4 of the content that was going to be made in the year after the release date that Lucas Art’s forced on them.

        Really I fucking HATE what’s been done to some companies by publishers.

        Troika, made Arcanum, ToEE, both were incredibly good games, granted they had bugs, mostly due to the design style at Troika. But they were some of the best RPG’s to ever come out.

        VtM came, this is right around the start of the 2004 onward decline, Activision basically said, you release this, at this fucking date, or we’re cutting financing and suing you for the cost you’ve put on us. So they have the game nearly ready for release, having had to fire the writers and re-write the script half way through development. Finally they had to release it after Half-Life 2. Making it get lost in the tumble dryer of a major release…

        Moving onto Obsidian, I really don’t know how they are still around, given the shit they’ve been put through.

        Let’s start with KotOR 2, so they’re about two years into development, when Lucas Art’s drops the bomb on them, they want it ready for release by Christmas time THAT YEAR. They end up having to cull a fourth to a third of the content from the game. But they manage it, then the public decries THEM not Lucas Arts for making a decent but not great game.

        Let’s move on to NwN 2, basically, they got a VERY old version of the NwN engine to modify from Atari. Along with a forced release date.

        Finally on to Alpha Protocol, and then some predictions on Fallout New Vegas.

        Alpha Protocol was a decent game, like most of the games put out by Obsidian, it could however have been far better, if not for publisher meddling. Sony had them stop development for 6 months, then redesign large sections of the game about 2/4’s of the way through dev. They also fired Brian Mitsoda and revamped his plot, by a VERY large amount.

        My predictions for New Vegas, a decent game, with a fair amount of bugs, and possibly good writing. Basically a slightly improved fallout 3.

        Then we come to other games, take Borderlands, they release a mediocre game, with shitty shooting mechanics, a poor core-gameplay and plot. And it seems to be hailed as the next god of FPS’s. GRAGH.

        1. (LK) says:

          The biggest problem is the publisher-developer relationship. People who know nothing about their trade, whose only education is a business degree, try to control and micromanage the production of a commodity they are ignorant about the workings of.

          The problem that makes this so obvious in the games industry is the businessmen don’t appreciate that making games is actually a highly complex skill. The current publisher/developer relationship is akin to an automotive company where guys with nothing but an MBA are stepping in and overriding the engineers, redesigning their engines, brake systems, and transmissions.

          At an auto company, they appreciate that that would kill hundreds of thousands of people, executives know shit about designing machines. At a games company, they don’t comprehend this yet. Executives know shit about designing games and don’t actually think there’s anything to know.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Auto execs dont care about peoples lives.What they care is the bunch of tests their cars need to pass in order to be put to market in the first place.And they know that each failure will set them back a year or so,so they have to wait for the perfect design in order to pass those tests in the very first go.

            But you cant blame it all on the idiots in charge.The developers should already know by now who theyre dealing with,and how to handle them.If you have a great idea,and know that it is untested and will take unknown time to iron out,but you need some big mogul with money,you dont push your pet project in the very beginning.You say “I will fulfill your deadline with this game X,and the it will have these problems people will bitch about,and it will sell just quarter of shipped disks at full price.But if you were to give me double the deadline,I could make this game Y,that would have no problems,and it would sell over half of the shipped disks at full price.”Then you go on and make a safe game X,that will be just as bland as zounds of others,and it will sell like any of those mediocre titles,and the publisher will think”Huh,this guy actually knows something.If I listen to him hell make me more than double the money in double the time.I can wait that.”And then you go on with your pet project with loose reigns.Even if you had some image before,you cannot rely on it for your first project with a new developer.You need to manipulate them into letting you do things your own way.

            1. El Quia says:

              Sure, except that, most of the time, they will say “this guy does not know nothing about making money. I will show him how business is done. I have an MBA and all he does it make this.. games. Pffft!”

              1. El Quia says:

                Sure, except that, most of the time, they will say “this guy does not know nothing about making money. I will show him how business is done. I have an MBA and all he does is make these.. games. Pffft!”

                Realized too late the typos ;_;

    4. Avilan says:

      Well… it is still more visually appealing than FO1…

      Seriously though, the reason for the brow-ness is the same as in FO1: It’s a desert. It’s what they look like.

  7. Rutskarn says:

    I know everyone’s waiting around for my writeup, so here it is:

    PAX Day Two:

    I had a really big bowl of cereal today. Bigger than usual, I mean. Well, okay, not a whole lot bigger. Ballpark it at 110%/120% Cheerios mass. And I’m now out of Strawberry-Kiwi juice.

    I got a chance to play Master of Magic today after I legally purchased it from Good Old Games. I believe the release date is Q1, 1994. There are no plans to add Kinect support at this time.

    I recently checked, and have confirmed–once again–that I am not in Seattle.

    1. Fists says:

      Make sure you let us know if you get any information about dinner, I’ve been pretty interested in it for a while now.

      1. evileeyore says:

        BUT WHAT ABOUT LUNCH!!!!shiftone!

    2. Fat Tony says:

      souds intersting. waiting for more. = )

    3. Gandaug says:

      MoM. One of the best games ever.

    4. X2-Eliah says:

      “I recently checked, and have confirmed”“once again”“that I am not in Seattle.”

      Excuses, excuses. Don’t let such minor inconvenience stop you from supplying us on all the insider info you have on PAX! (Your cheerios are not fooling us!)

    5. Avilan says:

      Since you are here, so to speak, I just wanted you to know I am now officially playing FO1 for the first time since it came out (borrowed it from a friend back then).

      It took me about 2 hours to get used to the extremely clunky interface and the fact that doors you want to open disappears if you stand too close to them (due to the game removing the wall so you can see your character). Other than that, it’s as good as I remember.

      …I still like FO3 though. AND ME2.


      Edit: Your blogging about this is really fun as a contrast. Keep it up, match every one of Mumbles posts with one of yours. Should be great :)

  8. Coffee says:

    I assumed Spy Party would be a casual group mini-game collection based around back stabbing, head shotting, disguising yourself as a member of the opposite team, and all around making the lives of others (particularly Engineers and Snipers) difficult.

    And also, synchronised crab-dancing.

    1. Michael says:

      Are you saying you don’t like Turing-esque tests?

      Although… crabs are pretty hilarious.

      1. Coffee says:

        The only Turing test I need is whether or not my correspondent bleeds.

        Because if it bleeds… We can kill it.

  9. Irridium says:

    When Mumbles said she punched someone, I expected some her just straight up decking some guy Falcon Punch style.

    I’m a bit disappointed, but still entertaining read. Tell me, what goodies did Josh get from all the pickpocketing?

  10. Peter H. Coffin says:

    and teaching Josh a real-life mini game called “Make Sure Mumbles Doesn't Wander Off”,

    Ah! Godddamned escort quest!

    1. Avilan says:


      I am sure there is a Mod for it somewhere…

  11. Adalore says:

    Monaco looks pretty darn neat when I heard it was announced.

    From what I know it is coming from a developer trying to get out of a coding block of sorts, when the usual is landscape/ecosystem simulators as far as I am aware.

  12. Kdansky says:

    Completely unrelated. See what I just stumbled upon:

    It’s Star On Chest!!

    1. Jarenth says:

      It’s the new, edgy Star On Chest.

      Kids like that sort of thing, right?

  13. MrWhales says:

    Yay Mumbles! Did Josh have to use a Vita-Chamber in the Mumbles game?

    I like the tip about tech booths. Could be very handy

  14. Aldowyn says:

    thanks for making PAX sound awesome. and making sure that this will be my first (or second… maybe third or fourth. Hey, I have a lot of stuff I look at!) stop when I get home like every day this week!

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