PAX East 2013, Day 2: Multiplatforms and MegaboothsA column article by: Nick Boisson
Sometimes, the game writers here at Comics Bulletin would like to write about games in a non-critical manner. Perhaps they just want to share a new game experience or go all Gonzo discussing a form of interactive media. For this, we have Extra Life, a way for you to go on a journey with our writer as they discusses video games however they see fit.
On this first edition of the series, Nick Boisson sums up his experience with Day 2 at PAX East 2013.
PAX East 2013, Day 2: Multi-Platforms and Megabooths
Saturday, while being the busiest day at any convention, was a fairly slow day for me. Unlike Friday, which had me running around between the show floor, the panel rooms and hotels near the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, I had one appointment at 11am and the rest of the day was mine to do whatever I cared to do.
At 11am, I reported to the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel to interview someone about the upcoming Insomniac and EA title, Fuse. I won't say who it is (it was Ted Price!!!), but it is someone whom most gamers know and love. I spoke with them for over 20 minutes about Fuse and it certainly made me even more excited to play the upcoming title from the minds of Insomniac. Keep your eyes out for the interview!
A while later, I went to IGN's Fuse panel, titled “Fuse: The Sleeper Hit of 2013.” It was hosted by Greg Miller of IGN and featured Insomniac's CEO and Founder, Ted Price, as well as the game's Lead Gameplay Programmer and Lead Designer, Doug Sheahan and Mark Stuart. Greg Miller started the panel by explaining why he is calling Fuse the sleeper hit of 2013. He asked everyone in the audience to raise their hands if they had played any of the Ratchet and Clank or Resistance games. Everyone in the room had their hands up. He then asked everyone to keep their hands up if they had heard of Fuse. Nearly eighty percent of the room had put their hands down. Frankly, I was a bit shocked at the results. As a fan of Insomniac Games, I have been following this game since the E3 2011 trailer announced the game as Overstrike. But “being in the industry” pretty much leaves me out of the running since I know about most AAA games that have been announced. I figured that the general public didn't know about the game, but I assumed those who have traveled from all over the country (and some from other parts of the world) would know about Insomniac's first multi-platform title with EA.
The panel continued with Ted Price discussing everyone's concerns with last year's trailer when Overstrike's name was changed to Fuse, the art style went from a very cartoony and cel-shaded to a dark shooter more in the vein of Gears of War than Team Fortress 2 and the humor of the first trailer seemed to be completely absent. Ted Price assured fans that there was quite a bit of humor in the game, but it is much dryer than the Ratchet games. He also lets everyone know that the game is not “dark and gritty” as everyone assumes. They showed off quite a number of screenshots showing many brightly colored locales. They also revealed how the four-player co-op will work and quite a number of weapons and powers that Fuse gives the player. I would go into detail, but much of what was said on this panel is covered in my interview with Ted Price.
Fuse's Lead Gameplay Designer, Doug Sheahan, later booted up an Xbox 360 and began playing the second level of the game. This is the first chance anyone had to see the game in action. I was already excited for this game, but I am definitely looking forward to playing it when it releases. Afterward, they took questions from the audience. If there is one thing that I loved about this portion was that Ted Price and the other Insomniac team members were very open with the audience. Then, some tall dude got up to the mic and told the team that he was very excited that they were working on a brand new IP and that such a big developer in the industry is focusing on making a great co-op experience. He also mentioned that when his game, Borderlands, was shown at E3 many years ago, his team was bashed on the Internet for quite a while for its cel-shaded look. Yes, that tall gentleman was none other than Randy Pitchford of Gearbox Software.
At the end, the release date was announced: May 28th! You're certain to find me on Xbox LIVE that day!
I then ended the day at a panel called “Going Toe to Toe with AAA's: Building the Indie Megabooth”, hosted by Kelly Wallick. She began by explaining what the Megabooth is. For those who don't know, the Indie Megabooth began at last year's PAX East. It is a large section of the show floor that is bought up by indie game companies to show off their games on the same floor as the AAA titles. Before this, all the independent games were on a completely different level of the convention center. A level that was five flights above the show floor and 3 above the floor with all the panel rooms and theatres. What ended up happening was that, unless you accidentally stumbled upon them while looking for the restroom or you decided to check something else out after you played Minecraft (which was on the same floor), the indie games were never seen by gamers or press.
What Wallick did was manage a way to get many indie companies together to buy up floor space and show off their games where everyone can see them. The Megabooth is a completely volunteer operation. Everyone at the Megabooth is volunteering their time from their day jobs to work on the show floor and help get the these games seen. Even Wallick is a chemist by day and Megabooth overlord by night. They work together all year getting money together, figuring out places where they can stay in town, what they will need at their booths, what will already be provided and any other logistical issues that arise. At PAX East 2012, 16 companies came together. At PAX Prime 2012, the number jumped to 32 companies. This year's PAX East, the Indie Megabooth has 50 companies showing their games on a large space of 5400 square feet. Wallick says that she doesn't know how big PAX Prime's Megabooth will be this year, but all signs are pointing to much larger.
The Indie Megabooth is quite a spectacle to behold on the show floor. You truly cannot miss it! And fans are waiting in long lines to have the chance to play these games, definitely not something that would have ever happened on the 6th floor.
Day 2 is a crazy hectic day here at PAX East, but Day 3 should provide time to get me talking with developers and playing some games. See you guys tomorrow for the final day of PAX East!
Pop culture geek, Nick Boisson, lives in front of his computer, where he is Section Editor of Comics Bulletin's video game appendage and shares his slushily obsessive love of video games, comics, television and film with the Internet masses. In the physical realm, he works in Guest Relations for Florida Supercon in Miami as well as a day-to-day job, which he refuses to identify to the public. We're thinking something in-between confidential informant and professional chum-scrubber. He rants on about the things he loves (and hates) on Twitter as @nitroslick. You can also find him on Steam, Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Network, Nintendo Network and Raptr under the name “nitroslick”.