August is almost over and I’m ready to chill out a bit. I went down to PAX on Friday night, got my badge, and did my first tour of the exhibit hall. It was not as loud as E3 used to be, thank god. My friend Patrick, who moved to San Diego a few years ago to work for Upper Deck, was in for the show. We met Jess at the Palace Kitchen and had a fun dinner. Pat used to be in my game group, but now we see him mostly at cons and oftentimes only in passing. It was good to get to catch up for longer than 10 minutes. The fresh pasta with prosciutto, pea vines, and chanterelle mushrooms was damn good too.
Saturday morning I did GR work and then headed back to the convention center around 1. I hooked up with ex-SJGer Andrew Hackard, who was there with Wil Wheaton. Wil had given the keynote speech the day before, but I had still been at work so I missed it. Apparently over 5,000 people attended. The PAX goers clearly loved Wil, as every time he appeared at his booth a huge line formed. Andrew and I chatted while Wil signed and people snapped photos. This was right outside the exhibit hall, so just by standing there I ended up getting to see a lot of old friends. Handy.
At 6 I did a panel on the future of tabletop RPGs. My co-panelist was Chris Perkins from WotC. PAX was supposed to provide a moderator, but whoever it was didn’t show so Chris I just did it ourselves. The result was a bit scattershot but came off pretty well I think. We filled up the theater and went half an hour over answering questions. I had feared it might turn into a “tell us about 4th edition” seminar, but it wasn’t until the very last question that anyone directly asked about it. Chris rattled off a laundry list of things they want to improve in 4E. When he was done, I said, “I’m really heartened you guys learned so many lessons from True20.” I think he took my good natured ribbing in the spirit it was intended. He’s a good guy and man does he love D&D.;
After the seminar I stopped into the two big parties of the night. These events are not normally my type of thing, but since fellow punk rocker Jenny Bendel had helped put them together I figured I’d check them out. Vivendi was promoting their World in Conflict game. Do you remember the shitty 80s movie Red Dawn? (Wolverines!) World in Conflict is basically the Red Dawn RTS, with the Soviets invading the USA. The party was one of those things that make hobby game publishers want to cry. I could probably run Green Ronin for a year on what they spent to rent vintage US army vehicles, hire an array of models to wear faux Red Army uniforms and carry fake AK-47s, and redecorate an art space with sandbags, chain link fences, propaganda posters, and the like. Plus the bar of course and the multiple stations showing off the game on big screens. The ArenaNet party was half a block away at Game Works. By the time I showed up all the game cards were gone. I did, however, run into Brian Campbell and it’s always good to catch up with him.
When I had my fill of the parties, I considered going home. I was pretty tired after the previous couple of weeks. I gave Andrew a call though and ended up joining him, his friend Paul, and Wil Wheaton for dinner at the Rock Bottom Brewery (why it almost felt like Gen Con in that regard). That was a good call because dinner was tremendously fun. Wil is a super nice guy and I’m glad we had the chance to hang out. He’s a geek of my generation, so in no time at all we were talking about comics, games, shitty Star Wars prequels, etc. We also compared notes on punk bands and the challenges of being a step dad. I only wish Nicole could have been there, as she’s a long time reader of his blog and would have really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, she was in Minnesota with Kate, so missed out on this and seeing Jonathan Coulton.
I got home late and decided to skip the final day of PAX. Instead Rick and I headed south Sunday to visit the Game Matrix, a store in the Tacoma area I have been meaning to visit for years now. It’s a good store, with lots of game space and some interesting stuff you don’t see often in a retail environment. I ate a Sizzler for the very first time. While it was the best food option we could find in the immediate area of the store, let’s just say it was no Palace Kitchen.