Gaming

PAX.AU 2015 – Day Two Impressions

PAX.AU-2015-Day-2-02

The draft…

The second day of PAX Australia 2015 began with the customary “Make a Strip” session. This time Kris Straub filled in for Mike and provided a great foil for Jerry during the Q&A. It was nice to see that despite the last minute changes to the schedule, Penny Arcade still found a way to give the fans what they wanted.

It makes me think that there could be value in extending this format in the future to include more guest artists. It’s a great way of not only introducing new talent but to give existing ones a chance to engage with fans.

PAX.AU-2015-Day-2-03

The finished product… not bad for an hour’s work.

Wargaming.Net was not only here for World of Tanks, etc games but also for Master of Orion, their reboot of the highly influential 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate) strategy game. It’s worth mentioning that team developing it are so intent on making sure they get it right first time that members of the original game’s development team (released in 1993) have been consulting on the project. This laser like focus may not bring a lot of surprises to the game but should guarantee that it is exactly what fans want.

Randy King of NGD Studios, the developers of the new game, had to face quite a few questions from an audience very familiar with the old titles and though he couldn’t answer everything due to game that’s still in flux with its design, he was quite able to delve into details when needed.

There continued to be queues aplenty for big name items including Fallout 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Star Wars Battlefront and PlayStation VR. If you were willing to spend more than an hour in line that is… and in the busy Expo Hall its probably the worst place to be stuck waiting for any length of time.

I returned to Xbox again and finally had a chance to play Cuphead. Despite its gorgeous looks this is no doubt a shmup (shoot-em-up) and will be having you mashing buttons non stop throughout the game. In the game that was on demonstration, you’re presented with a hub world that you can walk around and choose where to go next.

The queue for Cuphead was constant.

The queue for Cuphead was constant.

Each area you enter pits you against opponents that in similar games would be regarded as the end level bosses. It can be jarring at first as it does go against the grain of “traditional” shmup levels of small opponents leading to the big guys. Watching other players it seems these levels may go from one boss to another so there might be multiple challenges before you complete one. It may be pretty but looks to also be a punishing game too.

Another game I’m fascinated with is SUPERHOT which looks like the result of combining bullet time in The Matrix, a first person shooter, some design cues from Mirror’s Edge, popping them in a blender and getting a puzzle game pop out with all the textures still stuck in the bottom of the jug.

The concept in the game that time only moves when you do might seem foreign but it was cool to see that people would “get it” once they had a controller in hand and soon be dodging bullets like a pro. The art style helps a lot too by focusing players on what’s important with it’s monochrome levels highlighted by bright red enemies. I’m keen to see more of this game in the future.

Later in the day I visited a Good Game Q&A panel which are always popular for fans of the show. The more relaxed format is great and with the number of younger gamers keen to ask them questions it shows that the team is wonderfully successful in attracting new fans.

Warren Spector facing his MANY fans.

Warren Spector facing his MANY fans.

The final panel for the night was a chance to listen to Warren Spector’s thoughts on Deus Ex while the game was being played live on stage. The fifteen year old PC game still has a devoted fan following judging by the size of the audience in attendance and Warren was more than happy to discuss the game. What was also great about listening to him is that he has some strong opinions on where he thinks games should go and is not afraid to poke a stick at some of the big franchises in the industry.

So today ended up being about new and old; excitement for what’s coming soon and also to appreciate what has come before. Being a gamer older enough to have seen a lot of it, the occasional spot of reminiscing goes down well, especially at the end of the night.

One day to go!

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