PAX PRIME 2011
My weekend started on Friday, August 26th at 5:00am. Wake up, shower, drink some coffee and hit the road!
The drive to Seattle is pretty quick except when you get stuck at the boarder for over an hour. I however was a little lucky since the wait was only 40 minutes at 5:45am.. Ridiculous.. and for those who don't know, I am from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
So after getting through the border line, I was on my way and in a little under 2 hours I arrived in Seattle. This year things were setup differently so the will-call to pickup my badge changed. Took me a bit to find it and then I had to wait in a line but no big deal. I was prepared to be waiting in lines all weekend anyway! Once I picked up my 3 day badge, I made my way into the convention center and already there was thousands of people all over waiting for the event to start at 10am.
Last year I got in line right away for the 10:00am opening but this year I decided to chill out in the courtyard for a bit and walk around until around 9:45am when I went over to the line. It's a pretty quick process of getting everyone in at once so the only reason you'd ever get in early is if you wanted to be first to try a game and not wait in a massive line! I was in no rush so I just took my time. All 3 days of the event, I went in just after the 10:00am opening to miss that initial mad rush.
I had no real game plan this year because of my plans being changed about a week before the event. I was about to cancel my trip completely but a good friend of mine came to the rescue and let me use his hotel. Although this changed a lot of my original plans it also opened up for new things, I was free to roam and network. I wanted to see games that were of significant interest to me, so I stuck to that as my first goal. These games include Resident Evil, League of Legends, Counter-Strike and Twisted Metal. All I have to say is that the next 3 days ahead of me were going to be awesome and I'll try to sum it up!
Walking around the exhibition hall was fantastic. The amount of detail, effort and passion that goes into each booth is just amazing. People are everywhere handing out free swag to help promote their product or game. Booth Babes are literally at every station, looking sexy, grabbing attention and actually well informed on the games now. I tested some of girls out with a few more in-depth questions on the game and they answered them fairly well. So they aren`t just pretty attractions to look at during the event, they are also great at informing you about the game... wait.. ok I just like looking at them!
So about the line ups, they were everywhere. Any major title had a huge line. Some lines were 20 to 30 minutes long and some were 2 to 3 hours long. I waited a couple times this year and for specific things. Counter-Strike was my longest line of the event and that lasted about 2 and half hours but it was worth it. The game played out very well on the XBox 360 and on the last round of the 5v5 on Dust 2, I was left in a 1v2 situation. I was going for the bomb which my team dropped earlier near Terrorist side tunnels. I was trying to pick the bomb up but it wouldn`t let me. Then my screen flashes red as a Counter-Terrorist tries to knife me. I do a 180 jump and lay into him with my AK-47, but just as this happens the other CT appears and I quick switch to my Desert Eagle and 1 Deag this player in the face, "BOOM HEADSHOT!" This is followed by a huge uproar in the crowd and many high fives. As we leave the booth, the 2 hour and 30 minute wait is rewarded with a PC Beta code which is set to be released in October this year! I would have never waited that long to just play the game and get a free t-shirt. The beta is what I really wanted, the awesome performance by me was just a treat to all my fans! ha
Next up, League of Legends Dominion. As I walk by the League of Legends booth or should I say, amazing gaming stage that had big screens everywhere and a HUGE multi screen display for the live shoutcasting. I hear my name get called out and I see one of the members that's in my Vancouver League of Legends group that I started on Facebook. I hop in line with them since they only had 4 people. This helped me skip a long line, woo! Once we got up near the front, I start to talk with some of the employees. I explained who we were and that we had a League of Legends group started. This was of interest to them so I now get pulled up to the top level to go speak with the Director of Community Relations, Steve "PENDRAGON" Mescon. He's super pumped about what I do and gives me his contact info and invites me out to the pub for later that evening. After speaking with Steve, I went back down to the guys who I waited with and I continue talking with another employee and he happens to be the Senior Environment Artist. He started to ask questions about what I do and I filled him in on my Animation career and that I am a Lighting Artist and such. After talking for a bit before we went up to play, I grabbed his contact info and went on to play. Networking was a main goal for me this year at the RIOT Games booth of League of Legends. They are an amazing example of something that started off with around 20-30 people and now over 400+ employees in just over a couple years.
Once I was finished with the Dominion booth, I went on to try out more games and walk around with my camera taking photos and video of the event. I ran awesome people at the event which included @djWHEAT, @sWooZ1e, @HatPerson and @JessBrohard. Had some good chats, got my butt kicked in Street Fighter 4 by Swooz and went for drinks with Jess and her boyfriend at the Barcraft on Saturday night. Speaking of Barcraft, it was great being at a bar, drinking with people of similar interests and hanging with djWHEAT! We didn't have paper or anything for him to sign so we took the Starcraft Menu's that they have at this place and got him to sign those! It actually worked out perfectly because everything on the menu has been renamed to fit the Starcraft lingo. (image: http://a.yfrog.com/i...9/176/lw6de.jpg)
Outside the Exhibition, the nightlife was wicked this year for me. First off, networking with the RIOT Games staff earlier on Friday really setup the next couple nights. Friday night was more low key but around 15 people met up and went for drinks then eventually over to another pub to continue the drinking. Saturday was definitely my favorite evening. I started it off by watching UFC Rio. If you are a MMA fan, you would know why this night was good. Such amazing fights and unreal endings. Silva is a true legend but now back to the gaming world! After watching UFC, I went out for drinks at Barcraft. Once we finished up at Barcraft, I split ways with a couple friends and ventured down to Pike Brewing Company down on 1st ave. The RIOT Games crew had a great turn out this night which included more staff members and even more fans! Everyone was in a great mood, lots of drinks and an amazing speech by PENDRAGON. Once we finished up at Pike Brewing, we went over to a bar that was open later then 12. The evening was now really about to start and the rest of the night was amazing. Let's just say I made some great friends at RIOT and we downed a lot of drinks together!
Finishing up my PAX experience I wanted to try a few more games so I discovered a new game that a friend mentioned to me. It's called Smite, and it's similar to MOBA style games such like DotA and League of Legends but it's in a 3D environment with a 3rd person view. All moves are skill shot based and it was actually really fun. The last couple hours on Sunday before I took off at 5:00pm, I made my trip around the exhibition hall to say goodbye to my friends.
PAX Prime 2011 was a huge success and a bigger turnout then last year! I hope to get more vVv people up here on the West Coast for next year so we can really make an appearance as a group! If anyone has specific questions or things they want to ask me about PAX, feel free to hit me up on twitter @aamenta or here on the vVv Forums in a PM.
I'm already missing PAX and I'm stoked for 2012!
Anthony 'Kraft' Amenta