PAX South 2015


PAX South 2015 has come and gone, and I had a great time.

The venue felt just about right for the number of people, and its location provided pretty much everything you could want within walking distance. Oh and I was wonderfully surprised by how kind and friendly everyone was to one  another and the enforcers. Sure there was some grumbling about long queues for one thing or another, but I never encountered anyone that was outright angry or belligerent. So Kudos to all the PAX going people.

Over the course of three afternoons I attended a few panels and walked the expo several times, there were some things that jumped out to me, though I do apologize for all the games/developers I forgot about or that just didn’t stand out to me.

Video Games

First I think this is the year of the space sim and the smash brothers like brawler.  I think I saw half a dozen space ship games and just as many multiplayer brawler games.  I have zero interest in smash style brawlers, so I don’t think I can recall any of the ones I saw; sorry but that’s just how it is.

As for space ship games, I dig them but with with Elite Dangerous out and Star Citizens looming forever on the horizon, its tough to make an impact on my memory.  One did though, a game titled Rebel Galaxy. It is definitely more of an action game than a sim game, but something about how it looked / played jumped out and made an impact.

Let’s see then there was this little FPS called Wrack! which is apparently out on Steam. It caught my eye because of the way the game appeared to control and it’s art style.  This is not going to win any awards, but I felt the the team/person that built it deserved a hat tip from me.

Next up was a four player third-person co-op defense game titled Fortified! Nothing about the game’s system design stood out, but This one seared into my memory because of their 1950s sci-fi aesthetic.

While I’m the middle of my video game list I should mention that I saw a bit of Pillars of Eternity during their panel (it was not on the show floor) and it looked really great. Totally gave me a Baldur’s Gate 2 vibe, big time and it launches at the end of March.

Oh and Ya, ArenaNet had a thing and they announced their first expansion to Guild Wars 2. I do like GW2, but there are some things about its design that ultimately lead to me being bored and looking elsewhere for my MMO fix.  And, based on what I saw/heard, it does not look like the expansion will be addressing any of those issues. That’s fine, I don’t mind GW2 being secure as my always installed, now and then MMO.

Next up, let’s talk about Gigantic that fitting its name had one of the largest boths at the show. This is a third person MOBA, with a great look and style. I’m interested, but only so much as my interest in MOBAs exists. Heck I watched people play this for about half an hour and in the end I really just wanted to go play TF2. /sigh  Still I want to check it out.

Let me see what’s next, hmm. How about a little game named Klaus. This game oozed style, alas I am awful at platformer game play, but it looked like a game I would love to watch good players play.

From there I think I should mention Bierzerkers, a third person arena brawler (built on UE4) with a bit of a drunken viking theme; ok more than a bit. I think this game can win, if they go the way of 4 player split screen and play up the Beer part of Bierzerkers. This feels like a couch combat game, one possibly with real beer involved.

So after the ‘zerkering, I should mention *Elite Dangerous* was at the show, though I don’t really know why. I mean at this point aren’t all the people that are into sandbox space sims already aware or owners of this game?  Hmm maybe not, I guess and it looks pretty. Still odd.

I guess I should also mention I saw both *Dying Light* and *State of Decay Year One Survival Edition*, two different takes on Zombie Apocalypse. State of Decay is a remastered version of the game with all its DLC for Xbone,PS4, and PC. I enjoyed the heck out of the 360 version of this game, and think it’s combination of action, strategy, and RPG elements blended well.  Dying light is from the makers of Dead Island, and it carries with it much of what made Dead Isle fun, with the added parkour movement.   Both of these games look interesting and on my watch for during sales list.

Nintendo was also on the expo floor showing off the New 3DS, which I think is a no brainer if for some reason you don’t already have a 3DS. While there, I also saw a bit of *Code Name S.T.E.A.M*, from the development house that brought use Advance Wars and Fire Emblem.  I’m not sure what to make of it yet. I dig the theme, but without playing it I’m concerned it might be a bit too quirky for me. /shurg Hopefully there will be a demo. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SezVDf66YA

To finish up the video game section of this post there was an a little game called Moonrise, from the same studio that created State of Decay. This game looks really great; it has a wonder art style that drew me to the booth instantly.  The game itself looks like Pokemon pet battling game, which we might not need another one of, but dang it looks gorgeous and I will be able to play it on my iPad.

Table Top

Now for a confession:  My only real disappointment of the whole show, was that I did not get to play nearly enough tabletop games. /sadface

I did walk around the table top area and took a closer look at a few titles and saw several games I would really like to play / buy.

I’ll start with Sentinels of the Multiverse I am currently hooked on this co-op superhero card game, so I stopped by their both and picked up a few mini-expansions. While I was there I got a demo of their sister game, Sentinels Tactics  . What I love about Sentinels is the co-op hero as a deck of cards mechanics, and Tactics mostly ditches both of those in favor of table top tactics competitive brawling. It was fun, but if I wanted superhero competitive game I could pull out hero clix.  They do have scenarios, where a group of of heroes battle a Villain, but it sounded like a player needed to control the villain. I would prefer if the villain was autonomous, so all the players can focused on working together.   That said, I still would love a copy for at least the office library, so we can get a few plays in.

If I say Scrabble + Dominion, and you are intrigued then you should check out the card game Paperback

Conduct looked like a scenario driven Co-op game set on the Lusitania in 1909, where players are trying figure out what crazyness (and by crazy I mean cthulu like horros) has shown up on the ship and survive.

*Bring Your Own Book*  This game makes players find passages in books that match a descriptive text on a card and are then judged.  I want this game right now, and might be printing out print and play version very soon, as in now.

*The Siblings Trouble* https://www.facebook.com/TheSiblingsTrouble  Here is a story telling card game about a group of siblings that go on adventures. Everything I saw around this game looked like something my daughter and I would love to play. I’m looking forward to backing them and eventually playing this game.

To round out the table top games, I need to mention that I played a quick round of Superfight!This takes the old question of “who would win?” and puts it into a party card game. Ya, it is pretty awesome.

Oh and wanted to throw a shout out to http://www.arcknight.com/ These guys created some awesome table top RPG maps and are working on some character tokens that look fantastic. Their Kickstart is done, but here is the page for reference. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1534484023/flat-plastic-miniatures

Now I’ll end this stream of consciousness info dump with Thornwatch.This is Mike Krahulik’s (Penny
Arcade’s Gabe) Table Top, adventure as deck of cards tactics RPG. I sat on a panel about the game, and a couple of days later was able to sit at the table with Mike as he ran a game for a few people. I want this game now. Seriously NOW.

I would probably butcher the game by trying restate the rules, so instead I’ll simply name of few mechanics that I think rock: The Momentum Deck, adventures are decks of cards, damage represented as wound cards that get added to your deck, and the miss by 1 – tell me a story rule. Go out and search for some video about the game, hopefully we will see this on Kickstarter this summer.

And that’s the end of my PAX South 2015 brain dump.  

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