This year I thought it would be interesting to write down my experiences during PAX Australia. I wanted to put more effort into experiencing the different aspects of PAX, from the panels, countless indies, freeplay areas, VR to possibly some tabletop. Here is what I did at this year’s PAX Australia
Day 1 (Friday)
Storytime with Major Nelson
Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb, is very well-known for his work with Xbox, from his blog, podcasts, Youtube presence and personality; and delivered a very inspirational keynote to kick off PAX Australia. During the storytime, we were given an insight on the work and opportunities he did before joining the Xbox team – from pioneering an online radio show, to working with MSN Music. With many people asking him the question “How do I get your job? (working with Xbox)” Nelson gave some helpful advice, encouraging people to be more accepting of new opportunities, and to push yourself to learn new things about the field you want to work in.
Panelists: Michael Jones & Lindsay Jones
When it comes to PAX Rooster Teeth panels, anything goes. We got some information on the next season of Immersion – the trailer they showed of season 4 was just pure insanity, and I honestly can’t wait to see the challenges Gavin and Michael have to face. The panel was mostly a Q & A session with Rooster Teeth fans, including some information on Michael and Lindsay’s work on different Rooster Teeth productions, and just stories about Gavin Free. Rooster Teeth has definitely grown the past couple of years, and I am truly excited for whats to come – from the animation and live action; and the charity live streams which are always a blast.
Panelists: Dane Maddams [Executive Vice President, Plastic Wax], Mick Hammell [Head of Production, Plastic Wax], Wes Adams [Lead Animator, Plastic Wax], Ally McLean [Producer, Plastic Wax]
Plastic Wax have been working on cinematics and in-engine content for games such as Fallout, Gears of War, Injustice and Homefront – starting off the panel with their highlight reel and showcasing the vast number of projects they worked on. This panel focused on the development of the Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailer, as Plastic Wax are also well-known for their involvement with Lego cinematics and advertisements. We got a behind-the-scenes look at the storyboarding, animation and deleted scenes for the teaser trailer, as they wanted to recreate the famous Force Awakens teaser from late-2014 in a Lego games fashion.
Do you remember that Injustice 2 trailer from this year’s E3? Plastic Wax also showed us some exclusive footage on how those fight scenes were performed with motion capture and Unreal Engine 4. As the the actors were in the mocap suits, they used a special camera with a live feed of the actors being replaced with the in-game character models, making it easier to capture great shots and angles – it’s amazing to see how far motion capture in games has come.
Jackbox at PAX
The guys at Jackbox Games were at PAX Australia showing off their latest bundle, Jackbox Party Pack 3. In addition to having a freeplay area outside the Main and Wombat theatres, they held a panel where they got some notable faces from Penny Arcade to play the game on stage. They played 2 PAX-themed games of Quiplash 2 and a game of Tee KO, both of these are available in the third party pack. It was fun watching these guys out-quip each other, and have everyone in the theatre participating in the games – this was actually a great idea for a panel, as well as getting people in the queue areas to participate in the Jackbox freeplay as they wait in line
If you want to check out the shirts they created during the panel, you can go HERE
On the PAX show floor, I got a chance to play South Park: The Fractured But Whole, Halo Wars 2 Blitz, and PAX Rising games; Adventure Pals and Mini Metro. I also stayed around the Nintendo stage to watch people play some Rhythm Paradise Megamix multiplayer, stood in awe when watching people draw and model characters in CG Spectrum booth, and window shop around the convention and tabletop areas.
Compared to past PAX Australia show floors, this was the least memorable. I think with the lack of Wargaming, Riot and EA booths, the floor felt less eventful. However, there were some great games shown, a bigger focus on VR gaming and better cosplay (There were a lot of cool Overwatch cosplayers )
Food Fight Round 2
Presenters: Alanah Pearce [Writer, Presenter & Podcaster, IGN], Maude Garrett [Creator, GeekBomb], Nich Richardson [Host, Good Game Pocket], Yon [Troubadour, Tripod], Tristan Lutze [Creator, GeekPlate]
You must be wondering what this panel is exactly… recognising most of the panelists and being completely oblivious to what exactly the panel is about, Food Fight was probably the best panel I went to at this year’s PAX Australia.
You have four different Australian gaming personalities go up against each other to cook their ‘best gaming memory’ on a plate. Each contestant actually had to cook something on stage, and it mostly resulted in them drinking a lot of beer, grabbing people from the audience to help out and going around the theatre to feed the audience their creations. During the cook-off, copies of Overcooked: Gourmet Edition were being given out to audience members who completed certain food challenges. Overall it was very amusing and unexpected, I’m definitely going to the panel next year.
Day 2 (Saturday)
Make a Strip
This was my first time at a ‘Make a Strip’ panel, where Mike Krahulik would be drawing the next Penny Arcade comic, and answer fan questions with Jerry Holkins – doubling as another Q & A session. A great addition to the panel were modifier questions, where fans would give challenges to the two and gamify the way they answer questions – overall, a really enjoyable panel
Why is 7/10 a bad score?
Panelists: Edmond Tran [AU Editor, GameSpot], Lucy O’Brien [Entertainment Editor, IGN], Nich Richardson [Host, Good Game: SP], David Milner [Editor, Game Informer Australia], James O’Connor [Freelance Journalist/Critic]
A controversial topic with video games today, are the reviews and their scores – this panel looked at explaining and discussing scoring systems and the different ways the panelists go about review games. This was a really informative session for both fans and media alike, especially for someone like me who has previously done video game reviews – they are not easy to do. This panel covered issues including over-hyped or unfinished games, fan feedback and backlash, and the importance of reading reviews versus your personal judgement and opinions.
Panelists: Rebecca Ford [Live Ops & Community Producer, Digital Extremes], Steve Sinclair [Creative Director, Digital Extremes], Sheldon Carter [Studio Manager, Digital Extremes]
Canadian developers Digital Extremes were here at PAX Australia to talk about Warframe, their free-to-play 3rd person shooter. Warframe was released on PC and PS4 back in 2013, and on Xbox One in 2014, and is continuously being updated to this day. With their latest update ‘The War Within‘ arriving real soon, Digital Extremes showed off some gameplay and the things we can expect from the new storyline based around Teshin and the Grineer queens (I’m not that far into the game to understand who these are). They also showed off the Bard and Infested frames; one which revolves around music composition and synchronisation with other players, and the other based on the Infestation abilities where you’ll be able to summon maggots, pustules and tendrils….eww.
They also shared some stories on their journey so far including some highlights and low-lights of developing Warframe, and the future of the game. As a newbie Warframe player, I’m really impressed with the amount of work being put into developing and improving the game; and the dedication of the developers to build a positive and thriving community of players.
Saturday was the most active day for cosplays – it’s always great to see people put the time and effort into making these extravagant cosplays. I personally enjoyed the Overwatch characters, seeing a life-sized Reinhardt walking around the main hallway, and Dr. Junkenstein and Witch Mercy from the Halloween Event skins. In general, there was a huge variety in cosplays, with different body types and genderbends – it’s inspiring to see people be confident and show off their work and I hope it encourages more people to cosplay next year.
Unfortunately I was too exhausted to check out day 3 of PAX, but from my time at the event, the atmosphere was just as positive and enjoyable, from people playing new indie games, checking out a panel, participating in competitions, spending time with friends in the tabletop and console freeplay areas, taking a break outside the show floor and managing 3DS streepasses. There is always something to do at PAX Australia, and new things to experience.