PAX.AU 2015 – Day One Impressions

The first day of PAX Australia 2015 opened brilliantly thanks to Warren Spector’s keynote where he discussed his thoughts on what made games special and what everyone should be doing to help advance the medium.

Warren Spector on stage - he had a mission...

Warren Spector on stage – he had a mission…

From his perspective, the best games were those that had systems that gave players means to complete objectives through methods not always anticipated by the developers. Deus Ex was used an example early on but he was most proud of what was accomplished in Epic Mickey, despite its lacklustre reception from core gamers.

Not afraid to poke fun at himself, he went over his own developer CV covering both highs, lows and enough history to show how immense his contributions to the industry is. He’s also not afraid to give credit where it is due and was impressed with what Eidos Montreal had achieved with Deus Ex: Human Revolution. He will also be running a session on Saturday where he discusses Deus Ex as it is being played live on stage.

Directly following up was the first Penny Arcade Q&A. Due to an absent Mike Krahulik, fellow founder Jerry Holkins was joined by PA’s President Robert Khoo which is a rare surprise and gave fans a different perspective on what makes Penny Arcade tick. Most of what was covered in the Q&A wasn’t new to many attendees but their honesty with fans continues to be refreshing andjustifies their continued popularity.

Despite the PlayStation presence, Xbox was still there pushing its own games.

Despite the PlayStation presence, Xbox was still there pushing its own games.

The Expo Hall was dominated by PlayStation this year thanks to its central location and that it was also hosting both Disney Infinity as well as Star Wars Battlefront. You walk into the hall and naturally look into the middle of the area and you see PlayStation and Star Wars on a big screen. Works pretty damned well.

Xbox wasn’t a slouch either with it occupying the same location and space as last year but with queues for both Halo 5: Guardians and Rise of the Tomb Raider which even from a distance looks like a much better game graphically. And those curious about Cuphead got to finally play it themselves as well as a bunch of other indie titles that I’m back to again tomorrow.

Seeing that there were retro gaming high score challenges running through the weekend, I thought I’d make my first attempt at one with River Raid. Alas, after lining up for more than an hour and seeing one guy knock up an amazing 100K score my own confidence was severely dented and I played a terrible game. Nay, an embarrassing game. One more game I’ll try this weekend though.

In the evening, Jerry was joined by Kris Stroub, MC Frontalot and Angela/Aubrey of The Doubleclicks for an on stage session of Quiplash and Fibbage 2. Seeing hundreds of the audience members take part though the web components of those games was neat to see in action. It’s given me incentive to try out the games at home with friends.

A demo of Just Cause 3 was both awesome to watch and funny as hell.

A demo of Just Cause 3 was both awesome to watch and funny as hell.

The final session involved Bonus Stage, a live talk show from the team at Big Head Mode. A nice surprise for those attending was a first look at Just Cause 3 in action, live on stage which admittedly involved a lot of mucking around and wrecking things in amusing ways but it sure did look great. There was also an interview with Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz, Lead Quest Designer at CD Projekt RED. Not a lot of detail was covered here but there is more to come as he is also running a session on Sunday discussing the expansions for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

One day down and despite thinking I might be spending more time in the Expo Hall than ever before it looks like the opposite with panels that are keeping me well entertained and making the day pass much faster than expected.

Roll on Saturday…

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