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PAX

PAX 2009 was my first PAX and may already be my favorite show of the year. Granted, TGS hasn’t happened yet, but there were a few reasons why I think the Penny Arcade folks should be commended for what they’ve accomplished as far as a video game show.

Most people would compare PAX to something in the realm of “it’s a Comic-Con that’s focused on video games that doesn’t smell as bad.” While completely true, and I think I can speak for everyone that went about being happy about the lack of “dude smell” – it’s a show by gamers, for gamers. Granted, as press we got some great content out of the show, but PAX isn’t for the press. It’s for the gamers. And as a gamer, I think that’s fantastic.

Letter From The Director: PAX Is Changing The Game

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The Ratchet & Clank series is known for big-ass guns and the Lombaxes who love them. Insomniac's platformer series has sold millions of copies and spawned numerous sequels, and a new one, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, is coming at the end of October. Series creative director Brian Allgeier provided some insight into how the team comes up with Ratchet's ridiculous weaponry (and provided an exclusive first glimpse at some newly unveiled guns) last week at PAX. We taped it in its entirety. My favorite part is when he unveils the Groovitron montage.

 

Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time Weapons 101 Panel »


 

Its importance varies depending on who you talk to, but few gamers would deny that story doesn't matter in a video game. It does. To address this continually pressing issue, Adam Sessler asked Double Fine's Tim Schafer, BioWare's Greg Zeschuck, Silicon Knights' Denis Dyack and Bungie's Joseph Staten to join him on stage at Penny Arcade Expo last weekend about how each of them addresses narrative in their own video games and what steps the industry should take going forward.

 

PAX 2009 Panel: Medium is the: Story Matters »


 

Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time PAX 2009 Interview »


 

I recently had a chance to get some hands-on time with Insomniac Games’ upcoming Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (Check out my full preview here), and one of the things that struck me, even in the brief time I played it, was how sharp and engrossing the story is. The writing is just fantastic, the voice work is top notch, and there were moments when it felt like I was playing a game developed by Pixar. Consequently, it should come as no a surprise to you when you hear what Insomniac’s creative director, Brian Allgeier, had to say about the game’s narrative elements when G4 caught up with him at PAX 2009.

In terms of what Insomniac is trying to achieve from a storytelling perspective, Allgeier said:

“We’re really venturing into a more story-driven adventure. Ratchet & Clank was a platformer seven years ago…and that’s where we focused more on platforming elements, and keeping it sort of more of a mascot style game. But now we’re delving into more of, 'Who is Ratchet? Who are the characters he’s interacting with? And how do we make this CG-animated experience that feels like a movie?'"

From what I saw of the game, Insomniac has gone about answering these questions brilliantly, and I can’t wait to see the final product.


Cryptic's Star Trek Online is bound to suck the life from Trekkers the world over when it launches for PC next year. The subject matter is perfect for an MMO, and the Trek fanbase is as loyal as any on earth. So you can imagine the hype when the game was unveiled at PAX this year. G4 was there, speaking to executive producer Craig Zinkievich.

According to Zinkievich, the goal of the game is to make you feel like you're in the TV shows or the movies. To do that, everyone is given his or her own Starship, either Klingon or Federation.

"It's awesome flying around space with five, ten or 15 ships as a fleet," Zinkievich told us. "It's paced, it's strategic.... we really wanted to get that strategic feel in the game. It's about positioning, taking down your enemy's shields, getting right behind them and unloading with a photon torpedo and taking them out.."

Check it out, in the video below:

Star Trek Online PAX 2009 Interview »


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If you're a huge Halo fan but couldn't make it up, over, or down to Seattle last weekend for PAX, do not fret:  the good people at Penny Arcade teamed up with the good people at Bungie and allowed us to sneak in our camera crew to record their "Prepare to Drop" panel in its entirety. This was an entertaining discussion of Halo 3: ODST from beginning to end, including bits about the voice actors (a sizeable chunk of the Firefly cast), concept art, when they're willing to talk about Halo: Reach (not anytime soon), and a rousing debate over the merits of the Battle Rifle. Presented for your viewing pleasure: 

PAX 2009 Panel: Halo 3: ODST Prepare to Drop »


 




 

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle PAX 2009 Interview »


One of the Wii's strangest third-party exclusives was Grasshopper Manufactre's No More Heroes, published by Ubisoft in the US. Eccentric developer Suda 51 is returning to Nintendo for the sequel, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, which Billy Berghammer checked out at Penny Arcade Expo. Billy also had a chance to interview associate producer Taiki Homma about the game.

Homma promised No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle will retain (and enhance) the elements fans enjoyed so much in the original.

"I can guarantee you it's going to be quirkier than ever, it's gonna have gimmicks and it's gonna be really fun to play. In No More Heroes 2, obviously the maturity and the humor is in it -- I'll say it'll be in and also it'll be revamped, so it'll be more of the humor and the violence in the game."

For more, check out our interview (above) and Billy's hands-on preview.

Tags: PAX, Videogames, Wii

What Did Bungie Think Of District 9?

There might be a Halo movie eventually, but what was supposed to be the Halo movie helmed by Peter Jackson protégé Neill Blomkamp became District 9. While interviewing Bungie community manager Brian Jarrard at Penny Arcade Expo last weekend, Jarrard admitted that while he hadn't personally seen District 9 yet, much of the Bungie staff had.

"I know a lot of the guys [at Bungie] obviously have seen it. I'm in the minority," he said. "Pretty much universally at Bungie people love it. We're really just happy with how it turned out. We've always thought Neill Blomkamp had a lot of talent and it's just awesome that he got this chance. In a lot of ways, I mean, like Joe was saying yesterday, it's kind of cool that it isn't the Halo movie, that he [Blomkamp] got a chance to -- this is Joe's [Staten, creative director] line -- kind of give sci-fi a kick in the nuts and do something totally different."

If the Halo movie had been made, it's likely District 9 wouldn't exist. It's not often science fiction is delivered something that isn't based on an existing franchise. Plus, as Jarrard points out, maybe District 9 was what Blomkamp was destined to make all along.

"Maybe he couldn't have done that with Halo with all the cooks in the kitchen and all the creative sort of shackles that would've gone with that," he said. "Not to say there won't be a movie someday -- who knows? I would like to see one, but I think this actually worked out for the best."

Would you have traded District 9 for a Blomkamp-helmed Halo movie?



Halo 3: ODST PAX 2009 Brian Jarrard Interview

There was always a line to play Halo 3: ODST at the Penny Arcade Expo this year. But I wasn't there to play the latest adventure (and the first one not starring Master Chief) in the Halo universe. Rather, I wanted to speak with Bungie's community manager, Brian Jarrard, about the impending release of ODST, Bungie's presence at PAX 2009, understand the scope and importance of Halo: Reach (much bigger than I thought!), briefly touch on how Halo 4 relates to Halo 3: ODST and discuss reactions Bungie's reactions to the not-quite-a-Halo-movie, District 9.

Here's a little about what Jarrard had to say, looking back at Halo 3: ODST:

"Yeah, it's a first for us, I think we're super happy with the results, it exceeded our internal expectations. We've been pretty candid about having really small initial expectations for the project; we really wanted to be very careful coming out of the gate. We kind of tried to underpromise and we weren't sure where it was going to land, that's why you heard a lot of talk about expansion packs, 3-to-5 hours. Really, that was the initial thought about this game -- it's an expansion. Joe [Staten, creative director] and Paul [Bertone, design director] and the guys' [work] just kinda kept snowballing and the city itself kept growing and growing in size and all these flashback missions started to fall into place and now we're left with something that's pretty much a stand-on-its-own full, robust campaign, not even counting the whole second disc that we've thrown in the box, as well. I think it's a pretty compelling package for our fans."

For much, much more, read my full interview with Jarrard over here.






The G4 crew had an amazing time at PAX. (Though some of us are having a not-so-amazing time in its flu-based aftermath.) One of my personal highlights was watching the live episode of Feedback we recorded on Saturday afternoon in front of a capacity crowd -- sorry to the 300 or so souls we had to turn away!

During the show, the group discussed the games of the PAX 10, Halo 3: ODST, Star Wars: The Old Republic, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and Left 4 Dead 2. After we finished talking about games, we opened up the floor for some Q&A...including more details than you need to know about Blair's hangover.

Presented for your viewing pleasure! (And we'll have a regular episode of Feedback later this week.)

 

G4tv.com's Feedback -- Live From PAX 2009 »


 

Public Service Announcement: Swine Flu Detected At Penny Arcade Expo 2009

There was just one confirmed case of swine flu from the Penny Arcade Expo yesterday. It may have started with one, but that number is quickly growing. To help people better identify whether they should be heading to the doctor, Penny Arcade is documenting outgoing flights (and trains) with confirmed cases of swine flu and updating its website.

Confirmed cases so far:

Flight List for those with Confirmed Cases:

Departed Sunday:
Alaska Airlines #664, Seattle to Dallas, Departed Sunday Night
JetBlue #498, Seattle to Boston, Departed Sunday Night
United #958, Seattle to Chicago, Departed Sunday Morning

Departed Monday:
Alaska Airline #12, Seattle to Boston, Departed Monday Morning
American Airlines #1414, Seattle to St. Louis, Departed Sunday Afternoon
American Airlines #1162, St. Louis to Chicago
Delta #1050, Seattle to Atlanta, Departed Monday Morning
Frontier #432, Seattle to Denver, Departed Monday Morning
Horizon #2475, Seattle to Santa Rosa, Departed Monday Afternoon
JetBlue #176, Seattle to New York, Departed Monday Morning
Northwest #154, Seattle to Minneapolis, Departed Monday Super Early morning
Southwest #1221, Seattle to Salt Lake City, Departed Monday Night
United #356, Seattle to Denver, Departed Monday Afternoon
United #416, Denver to Tulsa, Departed Monday Night
United #505, Denver to Albuquerque, Departed Monday Night
US Airways #685, Seattle to Phoenix, Departed Monday Morning
US Airways #156, Phoenix to St. Louis

Departed Tuesday:
Frontier #432, Seattle to Denver, Departed Tuesday Morning
Virgin #755, Seattle to San Francisco, Departed Tuesday Afternoon

Train List for those with Confirmed Cases:

Amtrak Coastal Starlight #11, Seattle to Los Angeles, Departed Monday Morning

You might want to bookmark this page.

Tags: PAX, Videogames
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Welcome to "Morning Hangover" -- an excellent way to start your day with the crew at TheFeed...no matter what you're recovering from. Every morning you'll hear musings from two of TheFeed's editors and have the chance to share your thoughts on what's going on in the gaming world. So buckle up, kiss your beloved faction goodbye, and keep reading!

Public Service Announcement: Swine Flu Detected At Penny Arcade Expo 2009

Patrick: I've said it before, but Penny Arcade Expo 2009 cemented my opinion yet again that the Seattle convention is, by far, my favorite one to attend to each year. I marvel at the fan dedication at Comic-Con, but the sheer variety of fans varies so wildly that it's hard to have a collective allegiance. At PAX, that's not the case. It's all about games. Everyone there loves games, knows games, talks games. You can start a conversation with someone and already assume a certain level of knowledge. It's no wonder people spend so much time and money to travel to PAX. Many folks probably don't have a regular group of people to chat about games in real-life. PAX gives them that opportunity, a chance to connect about a shared passion face-to-face. You can't put a price on that.

PAX 2009 may have finished up over the long weekend, but that won't stop us from sending off Penny Arcade's expo with asizable photo roundup. Aside from our customary general gallery (complete with Team Fortress 2 crew below), check out the: 

Till next year, stay indie-classy oh great gaming convention of the Pacific Northwest.

PAX 2009 Photo Roundup, Yeehaw!

Public Service Announcement: Swine Flu Detected At Penny Arcade Expo 2009

It's not uncommon to return from a convention with thousands of attendees and spend a few days recovering from a cold. Penny Arcade Expo is proving no different, with several on the G4tv.com team down for the count, in addition to countless updates from friends over Twitter and Facebook, announcing they're wiped. The difference? There's been a confirmed case of swine flu at PAX.

"Just heard of our first test-confirmed swine flu case at the show," reads the official PAX Twitter. "PLEASE if you feel symptoms (fever, etc) go to the doctor."

It should go without saying, but if you were at PAX this weekend and feel like you're coming down with something, better to be safe than sorry. Get it checked out.

Tags: PAX, Videogames


PAX 2009: Bungie's

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the “Prepare to Drop” panel at Penny Arcade Expo. Becuase we're only a few weeks away from the release of Halo 3: ODST, I wasn't really expecting much in terms of huge news or big reveals, just a generally informative and entertaining show put on by the Bungie guys. And that's what we got.

The last time I really saw ODST was back at E3, and though it was generally accepted throughout the office that it was going to be a predictably good game, the excitement level was kept relatively contained. One of the big things they were pushing at the panel, and the notable aspect of ODST that I'm really looking forward to, is the film noir, heavily story-driven approach to this Master Chief-less Halo. Bungie's Joseph Staten, in talking about the approach they're taking with the story, joked that they were going to tell the artists to just make Halo 3 backwards and at night in an effort to save money. During the panel they cycled through various pieces of concept art, which really illuminated how they were thinking about ODST from the start -- incorporating the types of characters and story elements you'd find in in a noir mystery, and the "lone gumshoe detective" archetype was perfect for the ODST trooper we're going to be playing as in a few weeks. Marty O'Donnell, long-serving series composer, also played a couple of clips that were also very heavily noir-inspired, while still retaining the feeling of Halo.

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