Archive for August, 2006

My One Day at PAX 2006 – I met Jane Pinckard!

So, I knew that all the prominent game bloggers were gonna be there.

I’ve owned up to the unhappy fact that I am a star fucker. Anyone with the merest shred of celebrity who comes within my vicinity, and I start acting with a studied air of casual indifference. Furtively staring while contriving excuses for an introduction, something, anything that will bestow notice. Pitiful.

Some small, stupid part of me was hoping to make it on The 1UP Show. A segment on gay gamers, maybe. Perhaps Jane and I would check out the local bands and hipster haunts on Capitol Hill later, and I could find out how she came to do everything I love and get paid for it: writer, musician, film producer, gamer, Asian hottie. “It could’ve been me, it should’ve been me.”

I stood around with K for about 10 minutes, waiting for an audience while Ryan, another 1UP Show host/producer and what looked like The 1UP Show entourage, posed for pix and shot the shit.

I wished her luck since I had read she was leaving the show, and left them to their business. One thing I noticed though: all the bloggers I spied that day were much shorter than I expected: Brian Crecente from Kotaku (sorry, man, I hovered while you were buying food but found no graceful way to say hi), Jane, Ryan and Jeremy from 1UP. Weird.


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My One Day at PAX 2006 – DS’s galore

Just got back from PAX and I’m wiped.

I think I’ll spread out my observations across a couple posts. For now, I’ll write about some DS stuff.

Been holding out for a Enamel Navy DS Lite, and it’s been killing me. Every time I’ve laid out in the sun this summer, or been anywhere near natural light, my Phat has been pretty much useless. But all the reports of hinge cracks have dulled my pain and buoyed my resolve.

All the white DS Lites at PAX, though, made me rethink my color preferences. They looked so classy. Totally unlike a gaming machine. I asked a couple folks behind me if they’re prone to getting dirty, but they were literally new owners.

Might just have to get Onyx on Sept. 13.

The “wireless lounges” were a bunch of bean bags clustered on the floor. Waiting in line to get into the exhibition hall, it was great to see all of the handheld gamers gathered together. I brought Ouendan, Big Brain Academy, Mario Kart and Tetris with me. Mainly looked for opponents on the latter two, but didn’t have much luck. I think there was just too much going on.

Unlike most, I didn’t register for any tourneys– Tetris was the main DS one today. And players self-organized themselves well. Just getting the timing right, looking for players, choosing whether to host those with carts/without, joining, waiting, etc. was next to impossible. The impromptu wireless match didn’t really work for me.

Picto-Chat during the panels was amusing, as always. I’m floored by the drawings people are able to coax out of the stylus in such a small space. There was considerable lag, however, especially when people left the chat room.

Back to the exhibition hall. Nintendo had a great DS, um, playstation. Playable demos of Mario Hoops 3, Elite Beat Agents, Yoshi’s Island 2 and Final Fantasy III were blown up on mounted monitors above each unit. I only played Elite Beat for a bit, but couldn’t really hear the song. The difficulty level must have been on Easy. The same two levels you’ve read about from E3 were playable: the football player/babysitter scenario, and the pug trying to get home.

The animations were hilarious. But the Agents didn’t do it for me. Every now and then they flashed microphones and posed as if they were singing. It felt weird to see all of the game text in English. I found myself missing the cheerleaders from Ouendan. The absurdity of the game scenarios just feel more right with grown men cheering you on.

The Blues Brother outfits, the afro, even the name Elite Beat Agents, the lip synching, changes the feel of the game for me entirely. And I bet you that they did away with all of the crazy homoerotic and gender non-conformist bits from Ouendan. Which makes me even sadder that I couldn’t get the DS Download to work.

First, you had to download software that would allow you to play the demos. Then you had to choose a title to preview. Let’s see if I can recall them all:

– Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2
– Elite Beat Agents
– Big Brain Academy
– Star Fox Command
– 42 All Time Classics
– Spectrobes movie
– a movie of some Star Trek title

DS owners jostle to get a spot in the download queue

I kept getting communication errors on the first part of the download, and booted off once I selected a title (it was always Elite Beat). Even when it was just me and one other girl as the hall was closing, I got to a 78% completed download after shrugging off three Enforcers who asked me to leave, and errored out again. Arrggggh!

At the “How the Industry is Busted and and What’s Being Done to Fix It” panel, the guy from Behemoth conducted an informal console ownership survey of the audience. The DS was around 80% and the PSP got some sad clucks of sympathy from everyone. Kevin Bruner, CTO from TellTale Games mentioned that DS development was where it was at, though I don’t know that they’re working any DS titles.

Interesting conversation about the trajectory of photorealism in next-gen gaming and how it levels the playing field so that graphics become less and less important in differentiating your product from another. Is it fun? becomes the holy grail.

Which is why I’m hoping the Wii really lives up to its promise.

More posts from my one day at PAX tomorrow.

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