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G&P @ PAX East on Game and Player

G&P @ PAX East

The Editors  //  March 28, 2010

Welcome to the New England house that Penny Arcade built.


oston, meet the North American population of nerds, geeks, gamers, cosplayers and aforementioned rationalizing their lifestyle with media badges. The crowds here at the inaugural PAX East are thick but the spirit is generous and, most importantly, the air remains fresh (or the Hynes Convention Center's circulation system stands among the Herculean best in the world).

The event's moving fast, and Game and Player's editors are right here riding the crest. Keep coming back to this space for news, tidbits, and images from the convention center and more.

Click here to skip to our growing photo gallery!

Steel Battalion

Was $200 too much to spend on a game peripheral? Watching a roomful of gamers experience Steel Battalion for the first time at PAX East this afternoon, we'd have to say "no." For those of you not in the know, Steel Battalion was released for the Xbox back in late 2002, and it still stands as one of the most ambitious console releases of all time. Producer Atsushi Inaba packaged an epic mech simulation alongside a controller that was so complex it bordered on absurd — the rest is history.

This afternoon, one of the rooms at the Hynes Convention Center dedicated to console freeplay became a battleground — two teams of five (red team versus black) faced off in a battle for control points and bragging rights. The event's facilitators did an outstanding job educating their new recruits, and hearing a member of the red team yell out "enemy contact" to his squadmates was as humorous as it was thrilling. Today, a niche product that was destined to failure even before it was released held a roomful of onlookers enthralled. Ten lucky gamers became mech pilots, if only for a few moments, and we were there to witness it.

Dungeons & Dragons Online: Sentinels

The upcoming content release for DDO wasn't on our list of must-sees, but after the good people of Turbine took us aside and showed us an abbreviated — but impressive —

playthrough of Sentinels, and offered a summary of a few of the six feature-packed updates planned for the whole of 2010, we had a new MMO to give a very close look.

Scheduled for April 9, with VIPs promised early access, Sentinels pits players against Blood Tide, pirates who, in league with a necromancer, enjoy eternal life for the price of servitude and pustulent undeath. Zombie buccaneers? Oh, yes — with black tricornes to match.

We watched a well-kitted mage brave highlights of two six-player dungeon instances: Black Loch and Storming the Beaches. With stylings and combat gameplay reminiscent of the respective loving detail and action of Oblivion — vis-a-vis cartoonish dice-rolling of the definitive World of WarcraftDDO evinced a pretty distinct alternative. Then Turbine advanced the hero through a series of traps and platforming challenges. How prevalent are puzzles? we wondered. Common, says Turbine, and many reward the talents of a particular class — making DDO "a true roleplaying game."

Although the mage was several levels above the presentation's content, Turbine recently introduced a casual mode, adding one more option to what is already described as "solo-friendly" content for those who haven't the time to find a sidekick or four. And, too, content can be "tuned" to match the degree of challenge and measure of rewards.

Game and Player's editors are among Blizzard's eleven million subscribers, so the inevitable question was: why should we play Dungeons & Dragons Online? The answer was full and confident: DDO is like playing only "the best of WoW." No boar quests. No FedEx quests. More meaningful applications of character classes. And — "Did we mention it's free?"

Lines, All Filthy Lines

We thought 45 minutes was more than prudent advance preparation for Thursday evening's Nvidia panel, "Nvidia Presents." Upon reaching the end of a 120-foot-long, five-man-deep line, we were bodily cordoned off and — we note, gently — told that capacity had been reached. Only a handful of those waiting wore media badges.

Did one of the leading graphics hardware developers really intend to exhibit at PAX only for the principal benefit of attendees? How many of said attendees would publish a writeup afterward? Game and Player is a drop in the ocean of the video gaming press, yes, and if the big boys entered via invite, fair enough. But some reserved seats for media could certainly be made, and alongside other shortcomings hindering those of us who have places to go and people to see — from vague signage to occasionally lackluster crowd control — PAX ought to follow through with logistics on its decision to move from fan convention to industry exposition.








Jai // March 26, 2010 // 9:55 PM

I'll certainly vote for the DDO being fun aspect. The main reason I don't play it much is more the lack of friends on there than anything else.

It's certainly on the list of things to play when I have more time.

Adam // March 30, 2010 // 12:06 AM

Excellent photographs, guys.

Regarding the concluding sentence, i'm not sure I'd agree...particularly in consideration of the reason for PAX's creation in the first place. That said, we've talked, and you know I'm with you on the things that should have been handled better.

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