PAX Prime OnRPG/MMOHuts Day 1 Recap
By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW) OnRPG Editor-in-Chief
Co-Written by James Hunt (JamesBl0nde), MMOHuts Content Manager
PAX Prime is a monstrous event. Outside of Gamescom you’d be hard pressed to find a community gaming event that can match both the size and scoop of games being covered. Everything from arcade titles to indie Ipad games to portal gaming consoles to standard consoles to MMOs lined the convention halls with hardly any predictable order as to who was where. It is chaos. It is emotional. The Cosplay to norm ratio is roughly 2:3… It is PAX and it has begun!
Our day started with me waking up at 3am, downing a mana energy potion and donning my wizarding hat, and summoning my partner and our website’s head engineer Bowen into action. We immediately followed the line of sexy and awesome League of Legends cosplayers to the completely booked 6th floor of the convention hall to check in with Riot Games. What we witnessed was pandemonium as we arrived just at 11am when the opening ceremony of the NA League of Legends Regional Tournament was beginning! The crowd was deafening as cheer after cheer resounded through the hall while each member of the competing teams were introduced as if they were the starting five on an NBA line-up. Being relatively disconnected from the esports community, this was an extreme culture shock and sent chills down my spine as I realized I was witnessing the beginning of a new world of sports, now catered to the PC geek rather than the weekend warrior.
After a short elevator ride (including a freaked out Phreak yelling orders left and right about the coverage) we were on to interview Associate Designer Pabro, possibly best known for the following video:
We discussed the recent change in philosophy of champion design and artwork at Riot, some brief discussion on Syndra, what’s in store for Season 3, and of course I snagged somewhere around 6 Arcade Sona skins and 3 Riot Graves skins which we’ll be giving out in a trivia event coinciding our interview. So study up on your LoL, OnRPG, and MMOHuts knowledge because only those knowledgeable in useless information will survive the gauntlet!
Next up I finally finally got to meet the Firefall cosplayers Typhon and Mourningstar! Excuse my overuse of exclamation marks but I’ve seen them 4 times prior to this and never gotten a chance to talk to them so I feel a cloud has lifted from my soul. I then got a bit of a recap interview with David Williams (Lead Class Designer) on the massive changes that have come… and will soon be coming to Firefall on both the content side as well as the esports side. What’s more, I snagged 5 sets of Founder’s Packs to not only get you into the game but get you in with style and exp boosts to boot. This will also be going out when our interview airs on MMOHuts and OnRPG’s Youtube so don’t miss your chance as these babies cost from $50 to $120 a piece!
Afterwards we got a chance to talk to the esports queen of Firefall, Morgan Romine, about their epic new MGU (mobile gaming unit) that seemed to have had a rough journey plagued by overzealous fans throwing themselves in the way of the bus from Los Angeles through Oregon until finally reaching its sectioned off temporary home on Pine Street in Seattle. With 20 pimped out AMD PCs lining the interior walls and a bad ass shoutcasting station smack in the middle, you’d have to be crazy to visit PAX and not hit up this truck for some gaming action.
At long last we ran into JamesBl0nde fresh from his 105 degree Texas weather and ready to bask in the glorious 60s that is Seattle. We darted straight to the Unicorn theatre only to be corrected that Razor’s CEO was doing his presentation in the Pegasus theatre. Further aggravating the situation were those dang ponies telling me this was not the correct type of pony I was looking for. Fifteen minutes later we arrived sweaty to snag the final 3 press seats in the first 2 rows of the Razor demonstration. And it was a demonstration that may shake the foundations of the Gaming Laptop industry.
The second generation of the Razorblade gaming laptop was revealed to the appropriate slogan “The Beauty is now the Beast.” And that was no bluff. Weighing in at 6.6lbs and a mere 0.88lbs, this compact laptop brings the heat with performance and FPS rates on par with the much bulkier Alienware M17X! In addition it offers the special side bar (known as the Switchblade) features with customizable hotkeys, screenshot functions, and so many other features it’s hard to describe. With a 17.3” monitor and LED backlighting standard and a price tag of $2499, this is going to be a tough laptop to beat in 2012. Oh and for those early adopters that bought the first… well you earned yourself a $500 discount if you buy generation 2! Pre-orders are available now and the next-gen laptop will begin shipping in 30 days from today. I’m definitely ordering mine as the first generations were sold out for 4 months straight after launch.
While Dizzy was off somewhere trying to get exclusive swag from Kitty Mach, I got a chance to talk to Todd Harris from Hi-Rez about Smite and Tribes Ascend. I asked Todd, “As popular as Smite is does Hi-Rez plan on taking an approach to E-Sports?” His response, much to my surprise was, “Well we are working on an observer or spectator mode that will allow the person watching to snap to and see just what’s happening in the lanes.” I figured that was one step towards esports if you ask me. I was also interesting in knowing if we can expect to see any new game modes or maps added to smite. Todd confidently told me that we should expect to see that sometime in the future, however, right now their main focus is getting out a good number of champions for players to work with. On the Tribes Ascend side of things, Todd was able to let us know about plans for even more game modes to come. Stay tuned for the actual interview as Todd reveals the next class that will be revamped.
Right after Hi-Rez I found myself drawn to the Blacklight Retribution booth, but while I was there talking to the Zombie Studios Communications Manager Collin Moore, Their new title Special Forces Team X caught my interest. The game is still in development but it’s already packed with plenty of features, things such as being able to vote on map positioning based on your play style and also the fact that these developers have the rights to real weapon designs to feature in game. This game is going to release for Xbox 360 as well as steam for the PC later this year.
Besides our typical MMO and MMORPG coverage, we also took some time to check out what was popping outside our usual realm of gaming. Since our forums are constantly talking about Pokemon I spent some time to interview a member of the Nintendo team assigned to play non-stop Pokemon Black and White 2 during PAX. He fleshed out all the major changes coming including the path the former champion has taken, the revival of all the gym leaders from past Pokemon titles, and the introduction of all Pokemon being fully animated. The sprites and overall graphics were fantastic and I very much look forwarding to continuing a 2v2 slap bet going on in my apartment over who the best Pokemon Masters truly are!
On the indie side of things we also checked out two unusual titles. Card Hunter offers turn-based competitive strategy akin to Might and Magic, but one in which each character on the playing field has his own deck of cards based on the equipment you’ve unlocked and equipped on him/her. With multiple races and classes, a wide variety of card types and effects, and tons of tactical goodness, this is a title to keep an eye out for if you are a fan of the genre.
The other odd indie title we randomly stumbled upon thanks to an enthusiastic programmer sitting with his Ipad in a corner of the 6th floor was called Colour Bind. This platforming physics-based title incorporates gravity defying acrobatics and plenty of puzzle solving elements to force you to get through an obstacle course of flashy colors and death defying leaps. Not terribly surprising, it also comes with a color blind mode that replaces the flashy colors with crazy textures.