Saturday, March 23, 2013

PAX East: PAX East 2013: all the latest from the show

PAX East: PAX East 2013: all the latest from the show

Update: PAX East 2013 is up and running. Check back here for the rundown on all of TechRadar's coverage of the show. And if you're looking for the Pax schedule, you'll find it here.

PAX East 2013 is off and running, and we're on the ground in Boston to give you the latest news and first hands on reviews of everything on the show floor. Keep checking back to this page for updates as we sniff out all the need-to-know info.

The Moga goes Pro

Power A knew it was on to something with compact and collapsible Moga Pocket. Now its showing the Moga Pro, an Android gaming controller that smacks of an Xbox 360 controller.

Cliff Bleszinski on the future of VR

The Gears of War creator and Xbox 360 mogul had plenty to share during his "Storytime with Cl iff Bleszinski" during the first day of PAX.

At the top of the topic list was proclaiming his love for Oculus Rift and his dreams for the day when the virtual reality gear becomes the gaming industry standard. Bleszinski had this to say about Oculus:

"[W]e're moving more and more to that ultimate fantasy experience where you're essentially living the dream with that level of immersion."

Sounds pretty awesome to us.

Take a look at what we're expecting to see at the show

More on PAX East 2013

On March 22-24, the Penny Arcade Expo, or PAX, will be upon us. Gamers of the digital and tabletop variety (think Dungeons & Dragons) will invade Boston for PAX East, one of four PAX sessions scheduled for this year.

You read that right, you can mark PAX not once, not twice, but four times on your calendar this year. That's how f ervent a following Penny Arcade, the webcomic and video game news source created by Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, has garnered. So much so that last year's PAX Prime in Seattle had 70,000 fans in attendance.

All single- and three-day passes to PAX East have already sold out - sorry if we've teased you only to burst your bubble. However, when the show rolls around, please sit back and enjoy TechRadar's on the ground coverage of PAX East, and start planning your trip to the next PAX show.

What is PAX?

As mentioned, PAX stands for Penny Arcade Expo. Penny Arcade is the webcomic illustrated by Krahulik and written by Holkins since 1998. The strip serves as a mouthpiece for the pair's funny, insightful and occasional filthy commentary on all things gaming and the industry surrounding it.

PAX East 2013
Illustrated alter egos Gabe and Tycho

The first PAX was a 4,500-person event held in Bellevue, Wash. in 2004. The show has grown like a weed since then, with four sessions being held this year. PA fans, cosplayers (fans dressed as their favorite characters), and gamers alike can flock to PAX Prime and PAX Dev in Seattle, Pax East in Boston, and the newly added PAX Aus in Melbourne, Australia.

What will be at PAX East 2013?

Held in the sizable Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, PAX East is the second largest session of the show, after the aptly named PAX Prime. Starting March 22, PAX will showcase game designers over two days ranging from the big to the indie to the downright analog.

PAX East 2013
Last year's PAX Pr ime, in full swing

While the precise schedule has yet to be announced, preliminary information has been bubbling to the surface. In addition to booth after booth of gaming, there will also be live entertainment such as keynotes, musical acts and forums with artists and hosts Holkins and Krahulik will be milling about as well.

Based on tentative schedule information, here's what you'll see at PAX East, and what we expect from the show:

The Indie Showcase

According to the PAX website, the Indie Showcase is "a collection of the best indie games you've never heard of available on mobile platforms." These developers may have small budgets, but they're flush with creativity, and are designing for iOS 6 and Android.

So far the Indie Show includes seven games, and here they are:

Little Chomp: A platformer (think Super Mario Bros) and physics puzzle game starring the titular caterpillar, Little Chomp.

Third Eye Crime: Not to be confused with the band from the 90s, Third Eye Crime is a stealth/puzzle game starring a psychic art thief. This game a has a film noir visual style and a swanky jazz soundtrack to match.

PAX East 2013
Third Eye Crime

Major Magnet: According to its description, Major Magnet is a new kind of platformer promising "an adventure unlike any the mobile world has seen before." Intriguing, no?

Orio n's Forge: A puzzle game built on a narrative that has you helping Orion to forge to new constellations.

Saturday Morning RPG: A role playing game with a story and visual style harkening back to the Saturday morning cartoons of the 1980s. Guide Martin "Marty" Michael Hall through his high school to a battle with the evil Commander Hood. Sounds like something for Scott Pilgrim fans, or anyone who likes a little animated nostalgia with their games.

PAX East 2013
Saturday Morning RPG

Spaceteam: An out-there sounding co-op title for iOS. From the game's description: "Spaceteam is a co-op iOS party game for two to four players who shout technobabble at each other until their ship explodes...You need to follow time- sensitive instructions. However, the instructions are being sent to your teammates, so you have to coordinate with them before the time runs out. Also, the ship is falling apart. And you're trying to outrun an exploding star. Good luck." Count us in, Spaceteam.

Time Surfer :"Surf until your doom catches up - then rewind time and keep going!" A title with gameplay that recalls the slingshot simplicity of Angry Birds and the time-bending of indie darling Braid? Sign us up.

Helping indies reach a wider audience is near and dear to the heart of the show. At past PAXes, medium-pushing titles like Fez, Journey and Unfinished Swan have been given a pulpit from which to preach their arty approach. Expect to see more than just iOS 6 and Android titles, as the convention floor will be littered with booths featuring games big and small.

Story time with Cliffy B

A PAX show always has its fair share of industry movers and shakers, and nobody has moved and shaken the industry like Cliff Bleszinski, aka Cliffy B, aka Dude Huge, aka the creator of Gears of War.

PAX East 2013
Bleszinski with a signatures Gears gun, the Lancer

This is the man who overhauled the third-person shooter genre with finely tuned cover mechanics and precise camera angles. After three Gears titles on the Xbox 360, and with a fourth entry on the horizon, he announced a new PC-only title Fortnite, only to up and leave his position as design director for Epic Games.

Bleszinski will join the show as a Storytime Speaker, so we can be sure that Bleszinski will discuss his storied background in the industry. The man has worked on not only the Gears games, but also on the classic shooter Unreal Tournament and cult side-scroller Jazz Jackrabbit. We hope he discusses his plans for the future, as well as the fate of Fortnite.

We're also expecting commentary on the place of the new Unreal Engine 4 within the new console cycle. Bleszinski's former employer Epic Games is the home of the Unreal Engine, which numerous developers license to build games.

The upcoming Fortnite is to be the first Unreal Engine 4 title. Its hardware demands, and plans to continually update the title a la Valve's Team Fortress 2, has necessitated a PC-only release. That hasn't stopped Bleszinski and friends from saying that a release on next-gen systems like PS4 and Xbox 720 is not out of the question.

One question that lingers in our minds: since Fortnite is meant to be a living, evolving title with continual updates, who will be steering the ship now that Bleszinski is gone? And how much notice did Epic Games have regarding his departure?

Diablo 3 for consoles

Fortnite isn't the only game with a console release that we're curious about. Attentive viewers to Sony's PlayStation 4 broadcast will remember a mention of PAX East when Blizzard's story a nd franchise man Chris Metzen took the stage.

PAX East 2013
At the PS4 event in NY, Blizzard promised to show console D3 at PAX East

Metzen dropped the bombshell that hellacious action-RPG Diablo III will be making the leap to PlayStation 3 and PS4. He also said the first playable version would be unveiled at PAX East.

Obviously, this will be the PS3 version being demoed, since the PS4 has yet to actually be revealed, but perhaps Blizzard will talk more about this leap to the console space? Will the sinfully addictive Diablo will be coming to Xbox 720 or maybe even the Wii U, as well as Sony's new system? One can only hope.

A musical mashup

PAX shows always feature plenty of musical acts regaling the crowds with songs of geekery, and PAX East 2013 will be no different. So far the announced lineup includes VGO, Those Who Fight, Protomen, Sam Hart, MC Frontalot, Jonathan Coulton and Paul and Storm.

PAX East 2013
Coulton takes the stage

Among those names Jonathan Coulton is likely the most famous. Until recently, he was known mainly as the man behind hilarious and pathos-filled songs at the end of Portal and Portal 2. Now, Coulton has been in the spotlight as the man who may have been ripped off by Glee.

Recently, Coulton was all over the entertainment newswires when he accused the Fox hit Glee of knocking off his acoustic cover of Sir-Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back." Coulton and Glee's arrangements are indeed very similar, and singer-songwriter is still investigating legal avenues for the situation.

Singing comedy duo Paul and Storm have had a recent uptick of fame as well, thanks to a viral video of their tune "Write Like the Wind (George R. R. Martin)." Martin is the author of the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, which has been adapted by HBO as the wildly popular A Game of Thrones. Their song mocks Martin's notoriously drawn-out writing process, imploring him to hurry up and finish the series before he or his fans expire.

The question is, will these entertainers be playing the (in Coulton's case controversial) hits? Or will they have new music to debut for the gaming-friendly crowd?

The parties

Updated: Events are filling up! Some of these shows have sold out and are marked as such.

When it comes to parties, PAX goers know how to throw down. There are always a ton of nightlife events hosted by different companies and organizations where attendees can mingle.

At this late date most of the guest lists are full, but we've assembled a list of every get together we could find that still has a ticket for sale or room for an RSVP:

Mad Catz Unveiled PAX East 2013

Pax East 2013

When: Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 9:00 PM - Friday, March 22, 2013 at 1:00 AM

< p>Where: Guilt 275 Tremont St Boston, MA 02111

Admission: $ 50 Buy tickets

Update: The event is now sold out but Mad Catz has made it free! If you paid for a ticket expect a refund. For a chance at winning tickets, check out Mad Catz on Facebook.

Official description: "You're invited to experience Mad Catz Unveiled, an exclusive pre-PAX East event! Get hands-on time with pre-release titles before PAX, one-on-one experience with the Mad Catz gaming team, meet industry insiders, and socialize with the pro gaming ladies of LT3."

PAX East "Made in MA" Party 2013

When: Thursday, March 21, 2013 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Where: Microsoft NERD One Memorial Drive Cambridge, MA 02142

Admission: $ 50 Buy tickets

Official description: "MassTLC would like to welcome all exhibitors for PAX East and game developers to our 4th annual party to celebrate the local Massachusetts gaming industry and all it has to offer. Join us to see firsthand how Massachusetts has become a leading gaming hub and the amazing community of game developers, gamers, investors, students and enthusiasts that have made it such a success. This networking event will take place the night before PAX East starts, March 22, and we are expecting a packed house with more than 1200 guests! Register now!"

Destroy Boston: The official Structure Gaming pre-PAX Pub Crawl (21+)

When: Thursday, March 21, 2013 9PM รข€" 1AM

Where: Papagayo Boston, 283 Summer St, Boston, Massachusetts 02210

Admission: Facebook event

A night of drinks and camaraderie hosted by the staff of the Structure Gaming site, kicking off at Papagayo. Despite the destructive name, it looks to be a classy affair. "Proper dress" is required, and there will be a toast to the recently shuttered developer THQ. Very classy indeed. 21+ obviously.

Turbine Pax East Fan Appreciation Party!

When: Friday, March 22nd from 8:30 PM to 12:30 PM

Where: Jillians Lucky Strike, 145 Ipswich Street, Boston, MA 02215

"Join us Friday, March 22, 2013 from 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM At Jillian's Boston. Meet members of the AC, DDO, and LOTRO dev teams. The buffet will be loaded up with great munchies, including some vegetarian offerings and of course there will be great swag and raffles for those that attend. You might be lucky enough to walk away with a lifetime subscription to the game of your choice or other great door prizes. Plus, if you're one of the first 200 people through the door, we'll buy your first drink (beer, wine, or soft drinks)!"

Admission: Free, and no PAX Badge is required. Send an RSVP email

Curse's WildStar PAX East After Party (21+)

When: Saturday, March 23rd from 9 PM to 2 AM

Where: Seaport Boston Hotel 1 Seaport Lane Boston, MA 02210

Admission: Free RSVP

"Curse is throwing a MASSIVE party for our fans and community at PAX East 2013 in Boston. The party will feature premium bar, DJ, party favors, and a gaming area where you will be able to preview the highly anticipated MMO, Carbine's WildStar! You won't want to miss it!"

Sanshee Block Party (21+)

When: Saturday, March 23rd from 8:00 pm - 2:00 am

Where: Vintage Lounge, 72 Broad St., Boston, MA 02110) tickets $ 15.00

"Join the Sanshee team for a celebration of gaming culture at PAX East 2013. RSVP to get two drink tickets for $ 10 and early access. Event is 21+ and requires an invite or PAX badge and a valid ID. Come on down for a good time. No dress code; silly hats optional."

Admission: $ 10 + $ 1.54 fee. Buy tickets

That's all so far, folks!

Other than an extremely good time, this is what we're anticipating for PAX East 2013. Make sure to check back with TechRadar for the freshest hands-ons with the hottest gaming accessories to come out of the show, as well as any big news or exciting announcements.

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