My third day at PAX East was one of the busiest yet. It started early- way early- with whoever else was in my Airbnb calling out to me at 6:30 in the morning asking if I knew the Wifi password. Delightful.
As far as actual convention stuff- my good friend and excellent DM Will (who has attended a different PAX) told me to try and catch an event hosted by the people who started Penny Arcade, Mike and Jerry. I went to the create-a-strip panel, which I really enjoyed. Mike sketched and drew the comic on an iPad pro using an iPad pencil (iPencil? something like that) which was interesting in and of itself, while Jerry read and answered questions submitted by the audience. It was relaxing and fun, even if they both wanted Los Angeles to be swallowed by the sea or destroyed by Kaiju. I know Penny Arcade has had it’s ups and downs but they’ve done an incredible amount for indie games, tabletop games and charities. Not like I need to go to bat for them or anything but it’s just super easy to go negative on people who are popular on the internet and I don’t think these guys in particular deserve it. Of course there was a question from a fan that was more or less “I want to be an artist, any advice?” and what Mike had to say to that was simple, yet perfect: “Draw every day. Even when you don’t want to.” I’m trying to develop the habit myself (not drawing, but writing) and it’s actually the only, practicable thing to be done. There isn’t ONE WEIRD TRICK to becoming a writer, illustrator or creative type in general. Nothing that will make an internet ad say ARTISTS HATE HIM. You just have to do it. Find inspiration where you can, and when you can’t, take a break- but come back to it. Either Mike or Jerry mentioned a great Jerry Seinfeld quote in the same response to the question: “Writer’s block is just a term for people who don’t want to do their jobs.” Do the job! I’m trying to.
After that I went down to the show floor (seeing an AMAZING Ellie cosplay from The Last of Us 2) to do some shopping and check on the status of Boss Fight Books stuff at the iam8bit store. They were practically out of books- great for us! Next time we’ll plan on greater supply. I picked up a Limbo pin set while I was there. What I didn’t get but kind of wanted to spring for was the preorderable masterpiece for another Limbo-related item. I’ll include a picture, for those in the know.
I ran into Jirard again, and we shot the breeze about God of War 4. We’ll definitely do a video on that, in the next couple weeks while it’s still hot. Got to get that SEO, yo.
Ever since finishing Transistor a few weeks ago, I’ve been wanting to try Pyre. So I found my way to Supergiant’s booth to play a demo and get a taste. There was a single player demo as well as a multiplayer setup- I’m familiar enough with the game to get a sense of what the multiplayer would at least look like, but, having never played before, I wanted to try out the story mode. I’m not at PAX to get schooled in multiplayer by fans of indie development companies. I loved what I played- Supergiant is great at throwing the player right into a world and letting the exposition occur naturally and without feeling too forced. The meat of the game, the Rites, feels awesome- even though I know I barely scratched the surface of in-depth gameplay, I can extrapolate out how future matches might get even more difficult and exciting. The art is, as usual for Supergiant, phenomenal. My fiancée and I are currently living in a studio without a TV but once we move somewhere bigger, I’m looking forward to hooking up my PS4 again and downloading Pyre right away.
After finishing up the Pyre demo, I went back upstairs to help Boss Fight Books founding editor Gabe Durham set up for his panel- Wisdom Tree: Bad Unlicensed Christian NES Games of the 90s. Basically a presentation on Wisdom Tree and the truly bananas businesses practices that allowed a company to flourish selling Christian video games under the radar and behind Nintendo’s back. The details are fleshed out in his book, Bible Adventures- but it was great to have a packed audience roaring with laughter at some of the more absurd details of the history of Wisdom Tree and the NES. It was a great success and I hope we take that panel and topic to future conventions.
We did a little Q&A post-panel, then found a quiet place in the convention center to have a little pitch meeting about future books for the company. We have a lot of great stuff to choose from, and the next year or two will see some great new additions to the Boss Fight Books catalog.
The rest of the day was spent playing more demos and reflecting on the expo as a whole. I finally got to try Dropmix, which I’ve seen pop up on Kinja Deals every couple of months but never pulled the trigger on- getting a chance to demo it really made me want to do so. It just works- every card you throw down helps the remix in an interesting way, and the player can even adjust levels (vocal, percussion, etc.) to give different parts of the songs focus. One of the developers was even playing DJ at the front of the booth- he had the Dropmix peripheral hooked up to enormous speakers and all the cards spread out in front of him to play with. It was amazing- and probably an awesome party trick for that guy. Roll up to a party with a stack of cards like Yugi, only to bust out sick DJ skills.
Final demo of the day was Donut County. It was a hilarious and artistic indie game that I would absolutely play again- they were closing up the show floor by the time we finally started the demo so we only got a couple of minutes in. It has a very Katamari-esque quality to it, easy to pick up and play while oozing delightfulness. Also, the characters are extremely cute! I’m looking forward to playing the game more one of these days. Annapurna always puts out interesting stuff and going to this expo has really emphasized how important indie development is to the games industry as a whole.
Overall it was a great, busy day. Got home late and exhausted, but happy. One more day left, then back to LA.