Cat Context Podcast was LIVE from Pax Prime 2012! It’s out tenth episode, and guildies Liore, Telaan, Ellyndrial, Toss, and Vajra got together live in our hotel room studio for an hour to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly from the convention floor.
We mention new games Defiance, Cards Against Humanity, Smite, and Containment, the notable swag from League of Legends and The Walking Dead, and hanging out with devs from RIFT and Reaper Miniatures. The chatroom also asked us sensible questions that we were usually unable to answer.
If you’d prefer to watch this episode, you can find it here. Otherwise, enjoy this special edition of the podcast, and we’ll be back with two weeks with our usual smart talk about games.
Some links you might be interested in after listening:
(Don’t forget to leave 5 stars!)
My first Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) was in 2008. I had just met some of my Seattle guildies earlier in the year, and they talked about this video game convention that I should check out. At the time I was a game player but not really a member of the game community. I didn’t really know about this Penny Arcade comic thing, but I figured.. why not? I drove to Seattle, ambled up to the ticket booth on the Sunday morning and got a day pass, and had a lot of fun wandering around the show floor for a few hours.
My, how times have changed.
My feelings about Penny Arcade and the two fellows behind the property are.. complicated. On the one hand, they’re pretty good at getting to the heart of game players sometimes. They’ve picked fights with the game industry on behalf of the little guys, created a great charity in Child’s Play, and popularized John Gabriel’s Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory which is pretty fundamental internet sociology. They’ve given the spotlight to some pretty talented folks, too, like journalist Ben Kuchera and the Extra Credits gang.
On the other hand, the PA guys have said a lot of horrible, hateful crap. Probably the most famous is of course the “dickwolves” incident, where PA founder Mike Krahulik responded to concerns about a panel featuring a rape joke by mocking trigger warnings, selling a t-shirt that repeated the joke, and declaring on Twitter that it “feels pretty good to be actively encouraging rape culture”. Yeah. Ponder that shit. As if that wasn’t enough, earlier this year the PA guys also actively promoted and helped fund a hentai rape-based collectible card game. It’s pretty clear to me that Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins as people and artists don’t want women in their game zone.
So then we come to PAX itself. I’ve gone every year since that first one in 2008, which makes this.. my fifth PAX! And if we can put aside the fact that its founders are buttheads, PAX itself is amazing. (If you’ve never been before, read this wonderful article about it from last year.) I’d estimate that at least 40% of the attendees now are female. Booth bunnies aren’t allowed on the convention floor, which makes for a very pleasant environment. PAX Enforcers (the volunteer guides and security) include a lot of women and are very easy to find if you should need one.
The result of this inclusion is that at PAX I feel I can relax and just be a game enthusiast like everyone else. There are costumes and line parties and Nintendo DS throwdowns with strangers. There are event parties where you get to meet your fellow players and developers, and movies that run late into the night. All games are there, from Magic to D&D to SpaceChem to next year’s multi-million dollar title. I have friends that I pretty much only see at PAX every year. You know what it’s like if you’ve ever been to a hobby convention — that warm feeling of everyone being there and on the same page because you all love the same thing.
But the fact remains that it is the Penny Arcade Expo, even if the Expo is the important bit for me. Every year I feel more and more conflicted about giving the Penny Arcade machine my money. Is 48 hours of nerd community bliss worth the teeth gritting whenever Mike Krahulik (in particular) says something horrible and depressing? Can I continute to pretend that PAX welcomes women in gaming while Penny Arcade clearly doesn’t care for them? After this year.. I don’t know.
Now, though, is the time to pack all my nerd shirts and update my contacts list and dig out a wall charger for every mobile device I own. Tomorrow I am off to Seattle for PAX Prime 2012, to be with friends I haven’t seen in ages and rush around between panels and go to parties (RIFT party people I will see you there!) and this year for the first time host a live podcast from my hotel room. I will have fun with people who like some of the same things I like.
Let us eat, drink, and game, for next week we ponder our line in the sand.
PS: Going to PAX Prime? Wanna hang out? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter and we should meet up!
One of the ideas that I see frequently this week in Guild Wars 2 guides is that the game is about exploration. And to be perfectly honest, that sounds quite lovely even if the game itself isn’t for me. But why is that attitude gaining promenence now? Relaxing and exploring a new world is great advice for most other MMOs too, so where were the throngs of people declaring that we were all doin’ it wrong?
I was specifically reading this 10 Ton Hammer article on “How to Love Guild Wars 2” when I was struck by the relative newness of this emphasis on exploration. To quote the article, “If you want to find Tyria fun, embrace your inner explorer. Get yourself out of that quest-driven mindset,” and I am seeing similar advice being given all over the internet.
Certainly, there are MMOs where exploration is almost entirely out of the question — I’d say the revamped old world questing in WoW’s Cataclysm was a good example of actively dampening exploration. Often if you didn’t finish all the quests from the first hub, you’d subsequently miss out on quests through the entire zone. Someone even vaguely invested in seeing the content really had no choice but to go from A to B to C.
That wasn’t always the case in WoW, though, and while other MMOs have arguably not put the same emphasis on exploration, they certainly would benefit from such an approach by players. What’s going on in SWTOR? Go exploring! Find odd things to click on that would kill you, and datacrons. Stumble across a small town and help the citizens, then roll back on out into the space night. What’s up in RIFT? Climb a mountain and find some weird group of dwarves up there just hanging out, and maybe get an achievement for it. And classic WoW… well, anyone who says they didn’t enjoy the exploration back in the day was, indeed, doing it wrong.
I am a little put off that some of the same people who were the “go go go” types have changed their tune to “it’s exploration, stupid”, but at the end of the day they’re right — it IS about relaxing and having fun and exploring. I’m not entirely sure how that became the current hot gameplay ethos, though. Maybe I just haven’t seen the right conversations, but it strikes me as odd that many players will fight to make WoW ever more of a lobby-based game while exhorting the joy of exploration in Tyria.
Perhaps it’s the newness and novelty of the content?
I guess what I’m saying is that a lot of the advice that I see applied to playing Guild Wars 2 right now also works very well with other MMOs, should you find yourself playing another MMO. In fact, some of us have been treating our games that way to some degree this entire time. I heartily recommend it.
Guild Wars 2 officially launches tomorrow, so we sat down with some headstart Cats to get their first impressions of the game. How does it run on moderate computers? What’s new from beta? How does crafting work? What makes this game different from its predecessors? Would you pay for a subscription if one was available? Plus I get in a few skeptical questions about community because I can’t help myself.
This week’s cohosts are World-vs-World-vs-World general Juilin, and our branch co-leader, Corranhorn. Neither of them could quite entirely stop playing Guild Wars 2 even while recording.
Some links you might be interested in after listening:
* Credit Where Blizzard is Due: smooth combat on Herding Cats
* 100 Floors on Android and iTunes
* Homepage for the Tekkit tech pack for Minecraft
* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years
(Don’t forget to leave 5 stars!)
Tonight at midnight in my time zone the Guild Wars 2 headstart will kick off, with probably millions of players taking part over the next few weeks. I’ve been jokingly calling it the “Guild Wars 2 Rapture” in RIFT guild chat. This is the first time I’ve been sticking with the “little guys” during a hype-ful launch, whereas in the past I’ve either been engrossed in WoW during its behemoth days or trying out the new property. It’s required a bit of planning and mental preparation.
It might be obvious from previous posts that I haven’t bought the game. That being said, I hate not being part of a big event like a major game launch — being one of the gang and going where the excitement goes is my nature. Also, I have a lot of cool guildies who I haven’t played with in a while who said they’d be back in GW2, and I’m really bummed that I’ll be missing out on their company.
So while I’m not playing, I’m a little melancholy today about it. Fortunately, we’ve been planning for the GW2 Rapture in the RIFT guild for a while now, using the following survival tips:
Recruit! The survival guide for ANY guild should have recruitment as number one, but even more so now. There are plenty of people who aren’t playing Guild Wars 2 out there! It’s unfortunate to think about, but some guilds will probably move entirely to the new game or just die off as people play something else, so there will probably be a steady stream over the next few weeks of folks who need a good home.
Manage expectations! We run 10-man raids one night a week in RIFT. Ideally we’ll be able to continue that, but I know I’ve definitely been making an effort to let people know that GW2 might play havok with our schedule for a bit. (And, from the other side, that we understand if they’re a little obsessed with Tyria for the next while. There’s no need to make people feel bad about video games.) We have backup plans in place to try challenging 5-man content (master modes!) if attendance is light.
Patience! GW2 is probably better for the “little guys” than previous MMO launches because of the lack of subscription, and I know many of my guildies intend to play PvE in RIFT and PvP in GW2. That being said I suspect that even those folks will be distracted totally by their shiny new game for at least a couple of weeks, before mellowing out into a more sustainable rate of play.
To folks who are joining in the headstart or playing Guild Wars 2 at launch on Tuesday, although I’ve written some pretty cranky things here about your game I do hope y’all have a great time playing it.
To my fellow Left Behind-ers in the Guild Wars 2 Rapture.. rock out with your different game taste! Play what you love, and try to not sweat other people playing what they love. In the past I’ve talked a good game about how diversity in the market is good and people can play more than one MMO at once, and looks like it’s time for me to back up those zen words with a calm attitude and flexible plans.