I missed out on the presentations, lectures, and panels when I popped my PAX East cherry last year. I was only there for one day and there was so much to see in the exhibition hall that I just didn’t get around to it. That’s not happening this year. I doubt I’ll be able to hit all of these events, but in a perfect world, I’d show up to every single one of the following.
Blizzard Entertainment Presents (Friday, 10 am) – The minds behind Starcraft, Diablo, and World of Warcraft have something new to show off. The PAX schedule notes that “it’s not a sequel, expansion, or that rumored next-gen MMO.” So then what the hell is it? A Kinect dance game starring Deckard Cain? A prequel to the long lost Starcraft: Ghost? Or is it just Blizzard All-Stars? Convention goers won’t have to wait long to find out.
Games Journalism in the Age of Independence (Friday, 11:30 am) – Sounds right up our alley. There’s a lot of great games journalism happening all over the web right now, and this panel promises to drop some knowledge on those of us looking to carve out our own niche in the business.
Return of the TURN-BASED GAMES!!! (Actually they never went away) (Friday, 2:30 pm) – Terrible title. Great premise. I will always maintain that turn-based games can invoke levels of suspense and drama you just don’t get in real-time experiences. And they’re going to be talking about XCOM. If you don’t want to hear people talk about XCOM, I hope you get abducted by aliens.
From Playtest to 3D Printer: How to Make Your Own Board Game, War Game, or Tamagotchi (Friday, 7:00 pm) – This one just sounds like a ton of fun. If you play your cards right, you might be impressing everyone in line with your hot new prototype come Sunday morning.
Do JRPGs Really Still Matter? (Saturday, 10:00 am) – I’d say yes, but I’m biased. I’m curious to hear what other writers interested the genre think. And I’m really excited for the inevitable fanboy who decides to cause a scene when one of said writers questions the worth of his favorite series.
The Mass Effect Trilogy – A Retrospective (Saturday, 2:00 pm) – One of the biggest trilogies of this generation of consoles is more than worth taking a look at. Building something that big took a galaxy of time, effort, and planning, and learning more about the design decisions that influenced the games straight from the horses’ mouths could be downright fascinating depending on how many Bioware marketing goons are running interference.
Narrative Design – telling stories without words (Saturday, 8:00 pm) – Sure, that sounds like just the kind of niche, super nerdy topic only a wannabe writer like me would be interested in, but learning more about how games can tell a story without jerking the player into a cutscene or a dialogue tree should be downright fascinating. You can put off going to the bar for an hour to hit this up. Trust me; no one in Boston gets out to the bars before 10 pm. It’ll be ok.
Foreplay: Romance in Games (Sunday, 1o:30 am) – Romance has played an important part in many of the last decade’s biggest titles and gaming love stories continue to expand an evolve. Color me extremely interested, if only because this one’s sure to make me wistful for my beloved Tali. I miss you, my little Quarian sugarplum.
A Random History of Dice (Sunday, 12:30 pm) – Sounds like a History channel special brought to life. Sounds like just the way to spend an hour on a Sunday afternoon when you’re tired of the exhibition hall and over-thinking your favorite hobby.
How to Play Pinball (Sunday, 2:30 pm) – Never again shall I be embarrassed by my low scores in the arcade. I’m coming for you, Stargate pinball machine, and when I do the Who’s going to have to write a whole new rock opera just for me!