Pax East 2010

Time flies; it seems like only last week when we were covering the hell out of the Game Developers Conference, and this week we'll be all over PAX East. The three-day Penny Arcade Expo is a festival for tabletop, video game, and PC gamers, and will be held on March 26-28 in Boston, MA. Unlike GDC, PAX is all about you guys, the gamers. We're talking three straight days of panel discussions that are actually interesting, off-the-chain nerd-music shows, and an exhibition hall filled with your favorite game companies. Oh, and games. Lots and lots of video games.

Of course, G4 will be covering PAX East 2010 -- bringing you tons of interviews, news, features, game demos and whatnot -- but we're also part of the show. X-Play will be presenting "X-Play LIVE: A Show On Television" for the PAX masses on Sunday at 1 PM. Adam, Morgan, Blair and more G4/G4tv.com celebrities will be on hand to take questions from the audience, reveal world exclusive behind-the-scenes stories, and learn the true meaning of friendship. Plus, I hear there could be a rare special appearance from beloved X-Play favorite-son Ratty Puppet.

That's not all, though. Patrick "Scoop" Klepek will be "opening" PAX East 2010: He's on the first panel of the show, "Journalists vs. Developers: The Ultimate Grudge Match," on Friday afternoon at 2PM. There is sure to be rhetorical fireworks when Scoop mixes it up with Harmonix's John Drake and other prominent game-makers. Don't miss it.

If you're among the many planning to attend, make sure you stop by and say "hi," and if you're not going, stick around G4tv.com's PAX site for all the happenings as they happen.

What better way to prep for next week's PAX East event than with 10 gameplay-heavy minutes from Twisted Pixel's (The Maw, 'Splosion Man) upcoming throwback platformer, Comic Jumper. Join Captain Smiley and his comic book world which repeatedly breaks the "fourth wall" in oh so humorous ways. Enjoy.

Comic Jumper PAX East Gameplay Demonstration Video »


Pax EastAre you going to PAX East this year? You should be. The three-day festival for tabletop, videogame, and PC gamers will be held on March 26-28, and will feature nerdcore concerts, panel discussions, and an exhibitor hall filled with booths displaying the latest from top game publishers and developers. It's a gathering-of-the-tribes for gamers, plus, this year, PAX East features Klepek. Lots of Klepek.

On Friday, March 26 at 2PM, G4TV.com's own Patrick "Scoop" Klepek will be on a panel entitled "Journalists vs. Developers: The Ultimate Grudge Match," in which writers "square off against game creators." That's only one of many interesting and informative panels at the show. You can find the complete list of PAX Panels right here or click the cut below.

Yesterday, I had the chance to interview the founders of PAX, Penny Arcade's  Jerry "Tycho" Holkins and Mike "Gabe" Krahulik, about the convention, their new book and gaming in general. Gabe and Tycho say their mission with PAX East is to drag the excitement of PAX West all the way across the country to Boston, so right coast gamers can party too. Sounds good to me.

Watch this space for the full interview with the creators of Penny Arcade, and check out the PAX site to make reservations and get more details. G4 will be there. Will you?

G4's PAX East site is live, bookmark it for your PAX news from Boston. The entire panel schedule follows below.

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2K Boston Now (Once Again) Named Irrational GamesLet’s be honest. We’re dying to find out what Ken Levine and his team of mad geniuses over at Irrational Games (formerly 2K Boston) are up to, and while it would have been a safe bet to assume that Levine and company would have something to show at the Boston-based PAX East in a few weeks, that assumption would be incorrect.

During an interview with Gamer Node, Levine said that while the entire Irrational team would be in attendance, “We’re not planning on showing product there.”

I know. I know. Collective sobs all around. But not to worry. This just means an almost assured showing of the team’s eagerly awaited project at E3 in a few months. It won’t be easy, but we’ll get through this.

Source: Gamer Node


Morgan Webb Interviews DeathSpank Creator Ron Gilbert »

X-Play host Morgan Webb chats at PAX with DeathSpank creator and designer Ron Gilbert, he of Monkey Island fame, about his new wacky action adventure game.

DeathSpank will be released in 2010 through Hothead Games on PS3, Xbox, 360 and PC.



Electronic Arts has said that Need for Speed: Shift represents a return to the simulation roots of the Need for Speed franchise. Yet as our own Brian Leahy reports in his review, the game isn't all sim and isn't quite the arcade experience found in previous Need for Speed installments either.

We caught up with EA community manager Drew Hahn at PAX 2009 to find out how Shift manages to straddle the sim/arcade line, as well as how the game differentiates itself from its predecessors while at the same time reconnecting with the franchise's long-lost sim heritage. As Hahn explains:

"The way we've changed the focus this year is we've taken it away from the end of the race--winning and collecting cars--and we're kind of focusing on the whole driver's experience, the actual physical act of driving."

To achieve this, EA implemented a number of new features including one of the best cockpit views seen in a racing game to date, vision effects that mimic the sensation of crashing, as well as plenty of other tweaks, upgrades and improvements.

Find out more about EA's design approach for Need for Speed: Shift by watching the full interview below.

Need for Speed: Shift Drew Hahn PAX 09 Interview »

Forza Motorsport 3 PAX Game Designer Interview »

Forza Motorsport 3 for the 360 is coming out on October 23rd. Along with over 100 more cars and a ton of new tracks, Microsoft's racer aims to extend the realism of the previous Forza 2, offering more realistic damage, roll-over damage, in-car view and tons of other improvements. The game's multiplayer architecture aims to compete with top-tier FPS out there.

Of course the customization has been beefed up too. "There's a huge amount of car customization," Bill Giese, Senior Game Designer, said."As players go through the game, and they're really good photographers or tuners, but who maybe aren't the best racers, can become known in the community as the best painters."

"The attention to detail has been ramped up. The interiors are going to be a big win for us because they look so beautiful. Seeing someone race an R-8 at 60 frames a second, in cockpit, is nuts," Giese said.  

Turbine’s Dungeons & Dragons Online recently went free-to-play with the release of the downloadable upgrade, Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited. The developer’s director of communications, Adam Mersky, explained to G4 the reasoning behind this decision during PAX 2009.

Now, while forgoing a subscription-based model for Turbine's massively-multiplayer online role-playing game certainly gives the game a better chance of competing with MMORPG juggernauts like World of Warcraft, Mersky says that the micro-transaction approach also fit in perfectly with the history and philosophy of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise.

“If you think back even further, D&D was marketed this way, you know, from its inception. You buy a handbook, maybe you enhanced it when you got some cool dice or minis or a map. Then you bought more handbooks and manuals and things like that. So [DDO: Eberron Unlimited] fit with the IP. It fit with the style of game we built.”

Check out the full interview below to find out more about how Turbine went about developing DDO: Unlimited’s free-to-play/micro-transaction hybrid model.

Dungeons & Dragons Online PAX 2009 Interview »

Tags: PAX, PC Gaming

Adam Sessler Interviews PAX 2009 Storytellers Panelists »

If you somehow missed G4’s fantastic PAX 2009 panel on storytelling in video games, hosted by X-Play’s Adam Sessler, then I highly recommend check it out immediately. And I’m not just saying that because you get to spend over an hour hearing what Tim Schafer (Double Fine), Greg Zeschuk (BioWare), Denis Dyack (Silicon Knights) and Joseph Staten (Bungie) have to say about their respective approaches to game narratives...Ok. So that’s exactly why I’m saying it.

Well, Adam caught up with the developers following the panel for some additional discussion about interactive storytelling. What’s particularly interesting is how each developer explains his team's process in terms of constructing narratives in their games.

For BioWare, it’s all about the big dramatic moments. “We take almost a dotted line of events [and] that’s like the arc of the story. And between those dots on the arc you have various things that the designers literally have a lot of creative license to build. So the key thing is to really nail each segment,” says Greg Zeschuk.

Denis Dyack explains that while “the setting, time and circumstances around when the game is being created” definitely factor into a narrative's development, “Generally, we do think about the story first and then build a lot of things around that core.”

Bungie’s Joseph Staten talks about the value of not being locked into a specific narrative structure, saying that “Being able to be flexible with your story pieces, combine them in interesting ways, I think that’s something which is really exciting for us moving forward.”

To find out more about how these developers approach narrative in their games, be sure to check out the full interview.

What developers do you think tell the best interactive stories? What makes their stories so good?

Tags: PAX, Videogames


Team Ninja's Yosuke Hayashi Interview »

At the recent PAX 2009 convention, we caught up with Team Ninja producer Yosuke Hayashi to get the inside scoop on Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2.

"[Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2] is the most complete Ninja Gaiden game and gameplay experience," Hayashi told us, "Even if you If you follow Ninja Gaiden, this will feel most like the most complete. If you're a newcomer, you'll be able to see bits and pieces of the previous installments in the series. It takes in so many elements of what we've done in last several years. It will hopefully become the Ninja Gaiden of the last couple years brought together by Team ninja. So in that sense, it's not necessarily an ending.  As far as the future of the series goes, we have incorporated a hint as to where the future might be headed at the ending of Sigma 2."

Tell me, Xbox owners: Are you jealous that you won't be able to play this PS3-exclusive  game?

When LucasArts revealed that it was partnering with BioWare for a Star Wars MMO, millions of people (including Rodians, Mon Calamari, and Twi'leks) paid attention. Star Wars: The Old Republic promises to be like no other MMO to date. At PAX 2009, producer Jake Neri revealed how the game's story and combat will distinguish it from the pack.

"What we're really trying to do with The Old Republic is introduce the idea of story into an MMO. The genre has a ton of good games -- games that focus on combat and exploration and progression, but when we came together with BioWare to make this game, we wanted to focus on story and what that means in an MMO.

When we looked at the combat and we started out, the goal was to make it heroic and cinematic. One thing that's interesting -- I don't know if everybody knows -- is that everything that we've shown is up to level eight. At level eight, most classes you see are pretty impressive. We've got cool bounty hunter abilities that people look at and say, 'Wow, I can't wait to do that!' Our Sith warrior flipping through the air and rocking people to the skull -- people want to do that, right? It's cool. It's unique. It's exciting. It's heroic. From the beginning of the game, we're trying to deliver that experience."

Check out the full interview with X-Play's Adam Sessler!

Star Wars: The Old Republic Jake Neri PAX 09 Interview »




Adam Sessler Interviews The Penny Arcade Expo Creators »

Another year, another Penny Arcade Expo. Did you know only 3,000 people showed up to the first one, which was organized in just a few months? In 2009, more than 60,000 people hit Seattle to be part of the fun. Adam Sessler interviewed Penny Arcade founders Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins during the three-day event, where Holkins explained why they put together PAX in the first place:

"The overriding philosophy of PAX is, I would say, this is the convention that should have existed but didn't. More or less, people love to read about what other people are doing at E3, but there was no venue for publishers to bring their stuff and actually show it to people who purchase games. That isn't to say the media doesn't purchase games or -- this is the offensive thing -- the media don't consist of real people. But at the same time, it's an opportunity for a more robust dialogue between the people who play games and the people who make games."

Tags: PAX, Videogames


Left 4 Dead 2 PAX 2009 Interview »

 Few games get more love at G4 than Left 4 Dead. Some were concerned about Valve's decision to move ahead with Left 4 Dead 2 so quickly, while the G4 staff simply said: when can we play it? X-Play's Abbie Heppe is one of the biggest fangirls for Left 4 Dead, so it was natural she meet up with Left 4 Dead 2 writer Chet Faliszek at Penny Arcade Expo.

Abbie told Faliszek that she's noticed an unusually large number of female gamers getting into Left 4 Dead, a hardcore shooter. She asked Faliszek why that is:

"You don't just make a game for women because you're targeting some weird thing. We made a social game and we see people hooking up with their friends, we see people helping each other, we see complete strangers coming together to complete a mission. Really, it's this really easy way to play with your friends, to hook up with your friends in college, people who maybe moved away from you. We have all these e-mails of people writing in and talking about that."


Uncharted 2: Among Thieves PAX 2009 Director Interview »


It won't be long before Naughty Dog and Sony deliver Uncharted 2: Among Thieves to PlayStation 3 owners. October 13 is only a few weeks away! We checked out a nearly final build of the game at Penny Arcade Expo and also chatted with Naughty Dog creative director Amy Hennig about her feelings as the project wraps up.

"I am so proud of this game. It is miles beyond what we did in the last game and I'm only just sort of hitting that point where you can kind of see the forests through the trees and step back and see the work. I'm just so pleased with what we managed to achieve. I mean, we worked our asses off. It's all in there, we've packed it all in."

For more, make sure to check out our complete PAX 2009 interview with Hennig.

At PAX 2009, the attendees were treated to the first of what would seem to be a series of planetary trailers for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Here now, for those that haven't caught it yet, BioWare presents a preview of how the Republic's capital homeworld will feel like.

Star Wars: The Old Republic Coruscant Trailer »


I still think of The Jetsons whenever I see this planet. Perhaps Mr. Spacely of "Spacely's Sprockets" was indeed a dark lord himself. He definitely had the laugh for it.

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