PAX 2007 – Tales of a Plus One

Last weekend was PAX, the Penny Arcade Expo. I went with Chelseabot as her “plus one” (i.e. special guests of Omeganauts). You can read her account of the Omegathon right here.

I decided to fly on Frontier and was glad that I did. $5.00 for 4 hours of DirecTV vs. $0.00 for being trapped in a awkward conversation next to some insurance salesman from Florida? Money well spent in my book!

Upon arriving at SeaTac, we were greeted by our limo and whisked (well, as “whisked” as you can be in the traffic on I-5) away to our hotel. Chelsea and I decided to sneak into the convention center early and ran right in to Tycho and his wife. I tried to act casual and calmly ask a few questions (directions to the nearest EB Games, would he ever write a novel, etc) and I think I pulled it off. There have been several times in my life when I have come face to face with fame and been severely disappointed – I am happy to say that it was not the case with Jerry. For all of his scathing wit, he is a really nice guy when you get him one-on-one.\r\n\r\nFour hours after finally finding the damned EB Games (thanks for the great directions asshole!) Chelsea and I met up with the rest of our crew for dinner, which lead to me spending the rest of the evening in severe abdominal pain. Should have skipped that Taxi Dog for lunch and gone with a Piroshky.

Friday morning I had recovered from the previous evening’’s events and was ready to hit the con. First round – JENGA! I had no idea that watching a game of Jenga could be so intense. I doubt that even the sparkling clarity of 1080p could capture the nerve-wracking experience in any justifiable way. Five Omeganauts down, 16 to go.

We hit the Gabe and Tycho panel and were somewhat amused. We wanted to stay, but our stomachs had other ideas. We left during the Q&A portion of the panel, opting to eat rather than listen to another person ask the ever-annoying “Pirates vs Ninjas” question. About 5 minutes after we walked to the Subway, Chelsea got a phone call from a friend in the panel. He was informing us that Uwe Boll was now on the stage and that most of the remaining audience was standing there slack jawed in stunned amazement. Thank God for our empty stomachs!

After eating and meeting up with our ever-growing crew, we used Chelsea’’s amazing line-cutting ability to snag a PS3 to get in some practice on “Calling All Cars”(round 2). The very expensive piece of Sony hardware crashed while we were playing. Not exactly a ringing endorsement, I know. Calling All Cars (CaC – pronounced “CACK”), sucks. The control scheme is mushy, no one knows what is going on and it is generally un-fun. Like, Top Gun on the NES un-fun.

After the console room we hit the main theater for the concerts. Optimus Rhyme, Freezepop and the Minibosses. Freezepop was a little disappointing live. Not that they were horrible or anything – just not as good as the album. The Minibosses rocked as always, but you can only listen to them for so long. I checked out and jumped on one of the free play PC’’s to check out the new World in Conflict demo. I”ve played RTS games before so I understand how they are laid out. At least, I thought I understood. The game sat there for about 30 minutes mocking my attempts to move ANY units on the map. I supposed I should have actually spent time going through the tutorial, but this is a GAME not a enterprise application server. Pretty non-intuitive.

Saturday morning we hit the dealer hall and Chelsea managed to get Tycho to confess to her that round four would indeed be Rock Star (and not Karaoke Revolution, as was stated). All she had to do was get past Calling All Cars and Q3A. The Calling All Cars round was another tense round to watch. Chelsea managed to squeak by with one point. She wasn”t so lucky in the Q3A round (i.e. Girls vs. FPS). All of the remaining XX Omeganauts got wiped. There was talk amongst them of forming a lynch mob and going after John Carmack, but the revolt was quickly put to rest with the use of liberal amounts of chocolate ice cream and crepes. Performances by the Sex Generals, Photoshop Heros and the Dangling Participles (a la Rock Band) helped as well.

Having the “Special Guest” pass was amazing – we were actually BEHIND Jonathan Coulton during the show. Next up was MC Frontalot and his crew – amazing as always. I was especially touched that he actually remembered me from the Memphis show. I”m really hoping that the Katamari Damacy/Penny Arcade Theme Song mashup is on the DVD.

While I felt bad that Chelsea got wiped in Quake, I was happy that she and I were no longer tethered to the Omeganaut schedule. We got to roam the dealer room and discuss data architecture with the Warhammer Online guys, play around the with Penny Arcade Adventures character generator and collect some kickin” rad free schwag.

After getting home I noticed that the PAX boards were full of people complaining of catching a cold while attending the convention. The only ailment that I managed to bring back with me was a serious addiction to Puzzle Quest on the DS.

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