Today was a good, reinvigorating day.
I woke up and headed over to the convention center this morning to pick up my media badge (since I arrived too late last night to grab it yesterday). Badge pick-up opened at 8AM and I was very glad I booked a hotel that's basically a block away from the convention. I would not have been interested in making the same thirty-minute walk we made in at last year's PAX South. It's a bit on the windy side this week and I'm completely fine spending as little time in it as possible.
Most everyone else I know attending the event was coming in today so I was on my own the first half of the day. As I wrote about earlier, a less-than-informed convention security guard mistook me for an Exhibitor instead and let me into the show floor an hour before the 9AM media hour. So I spent the time wandering the Expo Hall to get a feel for where things were. Namely, I set my sights on the Nintendo booth to figure out just where I needed to be at 9AM when they actually started letting people take the demos.
After walking up and down the aisles for about half an hour, I went and visited with my friend Joe, who is here working the booth for Skybound (Superfight, Red Flags) as he has the past couple PAX events. We spent the next twenty minutes or so catching up before I headed back over to the Nintendo booth.
The hall formally opened and I hopped onto a Switch station to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
After that, I still had about forty minutes before the flood of PAX attendees would start flowing in, but even among the fellow media attendees, the Nintendo line was full so I headed elsewhere, mostly aimlessly. I ultimately landed on a demo of Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom, the newest title from the developer behind Oceanhorn: Master of the Seas. I'll be writing up a preview on that game in the days to come but the short version is it's looking like a fun little 2D side scrolling platformer in the same kind of spirit as Adventures of Pip.
With the final bit of press time, I swung back over and played Has-Been Heroes, the upcoming roguelike from Frozenbyte.
With the masses starting to pour in, I left the Expo Hall to attend my first panel, titled "New Friends, Better Streams - The Genius of Local Meetups." Given my familiarity with helping to organize and promote meet-ups int he Kinda Funny community, I was curious to see what this session would entail with its focus on community events in a Twitch-streaming-centric realm. I was especially intrigued when I noticed one of the panelists listed was an organizer for Twitch Arizona. Not a lot in the way of new information from an event-planning sense (though there was more emphasis on finding sponsors or partnerships than we're used to in the KF community), but I introduced myself to the Twitch AZ rep and followed the group on Twitter and Facebook. They host events in Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff so I might work to get involved or at least attend their stuff.
During that panel, I had started writing out my Switch and Zelda impressions so with the hour break before my next panel, I went over to the Media Room to finish that first post up and publish it. On my way, I made a quick detour back to the Skybound booth because they were selling official Oxenfree merchandise so I grabbed the set of pins. This being my second PAX as "Media," it was actually only my first time utilizing that resource (at West, I just wrote and published in the hotel room amidst terrible movies). But it was an interesting room to be in, overhearing conversations from other aspiring journalists and hearing their experiences (a guy at the table next to me had virtually the same intro to the Xbox One as me; waiting until the Sunset Overdrive bundle).
After hitting publish on that first piece, I headed up to my second panel of the day: "Streaming 101: Starting Your Quest." In case you haven't identified a trend yet, I'm interested in potentially starting to stream on some sort of regular basis. So between the new computer sitting back home and these introductory-level panels, I'm trying to gather some good tips and tricks to get started. Nothing formal to announce yet because I'm still trying to sort it all out but I'm looking at my options there.
After that panel, I swung back by my hotel room for a bit and started writing up my Has-Been Heroes impressions with the Kinda Funny For Honor Beta stream on in the background. That killed time for a bit before I eventually headed back for my third and final panel of the day: the Twitch Town Hall (see: pattern). As someone with a cursory following of Twitch outside of the couple of friends I have who stream and the Kinda Funny Morning Show, it was interesting to see some of their statistics and their plans for 2017. Among the various streaming-centric charity efforts, over $25 million was raised for various causes in 2016. And, like Kinda Funny, Twitch seems interested in making 2017 all about the community, announcing Communities as a new way for grouping together content on the site, as well as their support for groups like Twitch Arizona and the others that had presented this morning.
I managed to find Kyle O'Conner, formerly of IGN, briefly after the panel and congratulate him in person on his new role with Twitch. From there, I returned to the media room to finish the Has-Been Heroes write-up and wait for hotel-mates, who were all driving in from Austin. It turned out they were just about to arrive so I packed up and headed to the hotel room to wait for them.
Continuing with my love of Oxenfree today, I realized at some point throughout the day that I had sadly missed the Limited Run Games launch of a physical copy of the game in the morning. I received an email for it and all of my end of the year stuff had me itching to play it again. I meant to set an alarm or something to grab one when they went on sale but forgot. Fortunately, they released a second batch late in the day, where I was able to secure one. So it was a very Oxenfree-filled day...
Then, my roommates for the weekend arrived. Frequent former roommates Frank Bozzani (aka IrrelevantJokes) and Christian Puente (aka Pixelbrave), and newcomers David and Chelsea Wilkerson. We spent a little time catching up in the hotel room before we headed over to the Dave & Busters Kinda Funny community meet-up that Alex Aziz coordinated. About 15-20 of us hung out together (next to a batch of Comedy Button fans) for probably the better part of five hours: eating, visiting, and laughing with one another. Eventually, people started splitting away and calling it a night.
Chelsea, David, and I walked back to the hotel room, while Frank and Christian took a quick detour to the Whataburger I visited the night before to take part in the tradition that started at last year's event. Everyone wound down and turned in as I sat down to write this recap of the day.
All in all, a great kick-off to another year of "convention"-ing.