This year’s Penny Arcade Expo was my first. In a word, it is EPIC. I knew that it would be great, but it far surpassed my expectations.
What started out as a trip for just me and my friend Kevin turned into a mega-trip of 10 people. As most of us were on a budget, we decided to share two hotel rooms. The only ones we could find were about six miles from the convention center, but right on an express bus route.
Thursday – The Day Before PAX
Kevin, Val, and I drove up on Thursday morning so we could tour around Seattle for a day. We went to the Seattle Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum.
The Science fiction part of the museum was awesome, including some amazing collections of movie memorabilia. Unfortunately they don’t allow pictures inside the museum, so you’ll have to take my word for it that it’s worth a visit.
The Experience Music Project (the majority of the same complex) was also most excellent. Aside from the great exhibits, they had lots of places where you could learn, play, and otherwise interact with musical instruments. We even got to into a sound booth and play real instruments together as a band. We sucked… but it was fun!
When we were done, we used the Garmin Nuvi GPS that Val had to find a german pub. Bingo… one just a couple of miles away!
In the evening, Adam, Justin, Mike, and Judy arrived.
Friday – PAX Day One
Day one started fairly early with us arriving in line a little after 8am. We waited in a huge line of several thousand people. This being PAX and not some other crappy convention meant that there was geeky entertainment while we waited in line. Internet videos, text message trivia games, gameboys, magic the gathering, and countless other things were happening. It was pretty much the best time I’ve ever had waiting in line.
We were finally let into the Expo hall at 10 am. Upon entering, I was smacked with an explosion of awesome. One minute there are seven of us, jaws on the floor, and the next we all fell victim to “Oooh! Shiny!” and departed in many directions. I think we managed to stay together in the expo hall for about 45 seconds.
Blizzard was there in full force with Warcraft Cataclysm, Starcraft II, and Diablo III playable demos. I only played Diablo III and it was awesome. It probably won’t be for sale until 2010, but it was fun even in it’s current state of development.
There were a lot of costumed folks running around and I stopped to take pics of a few of my favorites.
Megan, Kelly, and Kyle arrived Friday evening and we all went back to the hotel fairly late Friday night, too tired to stick around for the MC Frontalot concert. We wanted to be well rested for our Ultimate Dungeon Delve in the morning.
Saturday - PAX Day Two
Most of us arrived a little after 8am. We went to the queue room, grabbed our concert bracelets and departed to discuss last minute plans for our Ultimate Dungeon Delve attempt at 10:30am. We won the delve after about four hours of nervous gameplay! The full details are on Dragon Avenue.
After our major win, we hung around the expo a bit, played a few games, and eventually basked in the glow of our awesome accomplishment. We went to dinner at the pub in the Red Lion Hotel. We ate good food and did some more basking in our own glow.
Afterward, we returned to PAX and went to the concerts. Wil Wheaton opened the event with an excellent dedication to Jonathan Coulton (JoCo) and an introduction to Paul and Storm, the opening act. I had never heard to them, but they were awesome!
After Paul and Storm melted our faces off, JoCo took the stage and proceed to do the same. He even brought up Paul and Storm for most of his set as backup singers. My favorite highlight of the JoCo set was when he changed the lyrics of “My Monkey” to “Wil Wheaton”!
He did three encores, including Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond and Birdhouse for my Soul by They Might Be Giants!
Sunday - PAX Day Three
We were wiped at this point as the concerts lasted until 2:30am! We hit the pillows around 3:20am and woke up at 7:30am for more PAX fun! Our first stop was the Star Wars: The Old Republic demo which was decent, but not as awesome as I was hoping. The presenters were too marketing-like and should have been developers (geeks like us). Nonetheless, the game looks great!
One highlight was meeting Sandeep Parikh (The Guild, Legend of Neil) and Tony Janning (The Legend of Neil). I got autographed DVDs and pictures to add to my Home Theater decorations.
Adam and I attended the Wil Wheaton Awesome Hour and it was indeed awesome. Afterward, we headed home completely drained of energy, but filled with awesome.