PAX, PAX, More PAX
That’s right, PAX is once again upon us, and this one will be my fifth. PAX 2008 was my first, and while I did miss one Prime (thanks a LOT friend who got married on Labor Day weekend), I made it up by hitting the inaugural PAX East.
Overall, I’ve had a great experience at PAX, and I still look forward to it every year. The fact that the scope of the thing has continued to expand so much every year is really crazy. It’s gotten to the point where it’s actually hard to see all the games that are there, even on a full three-day badge. That might also be a product of the fact that I’ve started going to more panels and doing things like being on a live podcast recording on Saturday (from 2-3 PST), and thus spending less time exploring the back corners of all the floor space.
There are a few less-than-great things about PAX (and Liore’s post here does a good job of explaining some of those), but to me, they remain mostly tangential to the actual experience at the Expo. Certainly, a good portion of that is my being less tuned-in to the specifics – or possibly just less directly-affected. I am absolutely sympathetic to the underlying issues, though, and I’d like to see PAX become a place where everyone can feel welcome and at home. Leaving out any women-focused panels this year is a huge oversight (and can certainly be cast in a poor light), but it’s good to see the inclusion of several LGBT-friendly panels and events. Hopefully, going forward, there’s room for more of both of them. It sure would be nice if we gamers – who take enough shit just talking about video games – could stop pushing out other people who want to join in on the fun.
Aren’t there GAMES at PAX?!
Why yes, yes there are. Here are a few of the things that I have heard about going into PAX that I’m excited to see:
- RIFT news! (This one seems obvious, since I’m playing RIFT a lot and have pre-paid for a year.)
- Defiance – Also from Trion, this is the MMO that will have an accompanying TV series on SyFy. I don’t know much more than that, but it sounds intriguing!
- Borderlands 2 – Yeah, I am a huge Borderlands fan. I have already pre-ordered this, and will get it in a couple of weeks, but it’s hard to stay away from it. Last year, we got a sneak preview AND t-shirts. Of course, my friend picked up a copy of the game once they ran out of t-shirts, but I think we came out better since we get to have both…
- WildStar – I don’t know too much about it other than what I read on TenTonHammer from Gamescom, but it looks intriguing.
- Guild Wars 2 – I didn’t buy it, and I have been avoiding it for various reasons (including a burning fiery pit of hate for some of their Cash Shop practices – like chest keys), but everyone is talking about it and a lot of people I know are playing it, so if they have a big booth (and I’m sure they will), maybe I can get a chance to jump in a little and see if it’s fun.
- Other random games. Every year I come back with a list of games I want to buy. Some of them are major ones that I hadn’t heard of before (Borderlands was like this, so was Darksiders). Others are small ones – Orcs Must Die! was a highlight of last year.
I’m also on the list for the Curse.com party, Notch’s super-secret party, and will be trying to get on the list for the Trion party. There’s also the podcast to do, lots of friends to see, and I hear that Seattle is even nice! (I confirmed part of this last year when I lost my badge for half a day… Luckily, the Enforcers are awesome and found me a new one!)
How about you guys? What are you interested in seeing, and what should I look out for?
I had a dream last night…
I did, actually, have a dream last night. And needless to say, it was complicated! It started off with me playing central midfield for Manchester United on a private, indoor field somewhere in Buckingham Palace. I think the Queen was playing right back, because we eventually switched positions after Sir Alex Ferguson yelled at us for letting in a late goal (we still won the game, and added an extra while being yelled at). It’s mostly unimportant, except that afterwards, I ended up having tea with the Queen and talking about various things. After a lengthy sidebar into the politics of chance and birth (those who know me will find this not-at-all surprising), she asked me about something more realistic, and I responded with “Now that I’m 50 in RIFT, I hope I don’t get caught up in all that raiding-related stuff again…”
We talked about it for a bit, but then there was some sort of peasant revolt and my time with the Queen came to an end (also, the alarm went off). It really struck me just how vivid my memory of the dream conversation was, but I suppose it makes sense, since it is something that I’ve worried about for a while as I have approached the level cap.
Her thoughts on the matter…
<Wayne’s World doodly-do dream transition> Dreeeeam weaver…
As background, I was an active raider in WoW for both Wrath and Cataclysm, and previously to that I was primarily a dabbler. I ran the occasional Molten Core, Zul’Gurub and AQ20 in Vanilla, hit the brick wall that was casual Maulgar/Gruul at the beginning of Burning Crusade and then returned to work on part of Karazhan towards the end of the expansion. For a large part of the time prior to actually raiding, I followed along with the community at places like Elitist Jerks. And despite the fact that I could easily have spent the time raiding during those days, I never found myself actually doing it. Some of it was a hope not to have to switch guilds/servers, some of it was a feeling that I’d never be good enough to participate (I was still healing instances as a primarily shadow-specced priest at the time), and some of it was simply the fact that I didn’t feel like I had the time (although I very definitely did, at that point in my life).
In any event, I eventually got over the hump, found a guild of folks that I mostly liked – and a class, druid! – and started raiding (10-mans, which probably helped a lot) a couple of nights a week. For 4 years or so, I basically maintained somewhere between two and three nights a week of raiding. I changed guilds a couple of times, raid sizes more than once, roles (tank/melee dps/ranged dps/healing with an alt), and found myself in a raid-leader type position on a couple of different occasions – most recently through the end of our efforts in tier 11, 6/7H Firelands and 6/8H Dragon Soul. During that time, I learned a ton of things about WoW, about the way that I like to play games, and about the way that I don’t like to play games. I spent countless hours reading about my class (and other classes), raid bosses, looking at gear/gem/enchant options, working with simulators and spreadsheets, and practicing – both on target dummies and on raid bosses.
Eventually, I burnt out, like so many people before me. I could tell that I wasn’t looking forward to logging on for raids – and I was barely logging in outside of raids. So I decided to retire. Overall, I really enjoyed my time as a “hardcore” (I use the term loosely, and primarily with regards to attitude, rather than as any indication of standing within the raiding community) raider. I’m glad I raided, and I had a lot of fun playing a game on a semi-competitive level. It’s burned a deep love of WoW into my heart, but unfortunately, a lot of the passion is gone. And, given that games are supposed to provoke passionate responses, it was time to (mostly) move on.
Snap back to reality
I took a bit of time off, and now I find myself playing RIFT. I had played originally during the beta and at launch, and really enjoyed the game. However, my enthusiasm sort of died down when I was approaching max level the first time (my first character stopped at level 43 of 50, my second at 41, etc). There were so many things that I loved about RIFT – and still do – the soul system is incredibly complex, but also totally customizable; the Defiants’ reliance on machines to power their magic; the fact that they actively reward you for exploring, rather than removing those easter eggs as exploitative; the simple fact that there are dyes and wardrobes. Stuff like that really endeared the game to me. I also met some of Trion’s people at the PAX party last year and got a super good vibe from them, which makes me want to support them.
But the thing that made me stop playing, originally, was the end game. It seems silly, but it was all there from the beginning – reputations, high-level crafting, dungeons, experts, raids, tiered PvP. I distinctly remember a conversation where I said, “I really like RIFT, but I don’t think I can go through all that shit again. Especially not while I’m still playing WoW and running heroics and LFD and raiding.” So I ended up letting my subscription lapse and walking away from RIFT for a while.
Well, a month or two ago, several of the Cats started to return to RIFT, and while I hadn’t been playing WoW with them, I’d kept in touch via IRC and other games (like SWTOR). I wasn’t playing WoW anymore, and so I figured I’d give it a try. I have to say, I’m loving it. All the things that were great the first time around are still great. There has been a ton of added content over the past year, the first expansion is on the horizon, and they are adding housing! Seriously, that is amazing. There is a ton to do, and a ton that I’m looking forward to doing! I’m enjoying it so much that I’ve even pre-paid for a year (and the expansion), and didn’t feel at all bad doing so.
The only thing is, I’ve just finally hit max level for the first time, and I’m kind of nervous about getting sucked back in to the numbers-based game. I really don’t want to. I mean, I want to participate with the guild when it goes on raids and rift-hunting and everything else. But I also really relish living in that happy obliviousness that is “I picked this spec because the burning rock pet (which I have cleverly named Gorignak) is the coolest looking of the pets, and who cares if it’s any good!” I want to keep spending my time exploring and finding the Ancient Cairns and jumping off waterfalls for titles. I am not really worried yet, but I can feel the min-max tug, and some of the “Congrats! Let’s talk later about all things wizard!” comments in guild chat are hard to ignore. I don’t like playing stupid, but… well, maybe I do.
Or, maybe I just want to live in ignorant bliss for a little while longer. We’ll see how it goes.
Okay, fine, I was using a skeleton for a while!
Wow, a blog, how very original! And one written by a gamer who thinks he has something interesting to say, at that! Well, yes. I realize that I am incredibly late to the game. I also realize that people have been doing a far better job of this than I am ever likely to and that they have been doing it for far longer than me. Even so, I am hoping that I can add my voice to the conversation, and hopefully bring something that is at least interesting – if not unique – to the table.
I’d say there are a few primary reasons that I wanted to (finally) start a blog. First, I obviously think that I have interesting – and correct! – views on things. I think that’s a really common viewpoint for someone who considers themselves important enough to write on the Internet. Even so, I hope that its true. The more people that are discussing a topic, the more likely we are to have a well-rounded conversation and be exposed to different ideas and opinions. It’s also nice to join in on the echo chamber, from time to time!
More importantly, though, I wanted to start writing again because it’s something that I’ve always enjoyed as a way for me to really explore my feelings. I’m one of those people who has a much easier time processing my thoughts on a situation through discussion – I’ve spent hours talking about random topics with friends and family (both online and off) and a lot of the time I don’t end up knowing how I really feel until the end of the conversation. Sometimes it’s later than that, once I have a chance to let it roll around in my head. So I figure that, rather than constantly saddling the people that care enough to listen with all of my inner thoughts, it might be useful to write them down and let people engage in the discussion at their own pace.
And finally, I also just wanted a place to share the things that I enjoy and write comments about them.
Why Should you Listen to me?
Like I said before, you probably shouldn’t. I like to talk a lot, and I like to make my friends listen. If what I say is interesting, I’d love for you to use it as a topic of conversation, or as a jumping off point for your own thinking. That said, and since this is primarily going to be a blog about gaming, let me give you a bit of my history.
I’ve been gaming for basically as long as I can remember. I started on an Apple IIe with games like Hard Hat Mack and Death in the Carribean. I remember being given an NES for Christmas when I was about 8, and I still have one (although not my original) sitting in my closet. Ever since those days, I’ve been caught up in gaming. In 1996, a friend showed me a game on AOL called GemStone (a text-based multiplayer RPG), and I was completely hooked. I joined in, and played some incarnation of that game for something like 10 years. It was the first subscription-based MMO that I would play, but definitely not the last. Since then, I’ve played many other MMOs, but most notably: Star Wars: Galaxies, World of Warcraft, and RIFT. I’ve also kept up a steady console habit, play Pen & Paper RPGs (started with D&D 3.0, with various reasons keeping me away before then), and have a casual interest in Magic: the Gathering.
Basically, I’m a gamer. Probably a lot like you. I can be very opinionated, which is probably also a lot like you. And, clearly, I’m wordy. That may or may not be like you, and it’s something that I’ll work on. Hopefully, you’ll stick around and read what I have to say! And do feel free to tell me where (you think) I’m wrong. I typically enjoy the discussion.