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05 April 2010 @ 12:30 am
PAX East 2010 roundup, part 2  
In this one, I actually talk about the convention itself!

Friday
The previous day, Enoch had read on Twitter that some Californians who were in town for the event were complaining about how cold it was in Boston, and were wondering how the natives could stand it. Thursday was actually the warmest day of the weekend, being about 60-65F. Friday morning, it was snowing.

Knowing that there would be a line to get into the convention, and figuring that we'd have to wait for entry into the events we wanted to see one way or another, we decided to get up early, get food, and get in line. Not having much time to choose what to eat for breakfast, we ended up just getting the breakfast buffet in the Sheraton's restaurant. The food was about what you'd expect from cheaply produced yet hugely overpriced hotel breakfast buffet foods, but we also received worse than usual service, having to flag people down when the servers simply forgot our requests or ignored us outright.

We passed both a Dunkin Donuts and a Au Bon Pain in the Prudential Center on the way to the Hynes, not having been to that portion of the mall the previous day. Immediately, there was no redeeming value to having eaten at the Sheraton when much more passable and less expensive food options existed a short walk away.

Entering the Hynes, we were ferried into the queue room, which was actually twice as large as planned - since the convention had sold out during pre-registration, the space that was marked on the map as Registration was actually converted into an extension of the queue room, complete with more projector screens. We settled in line near the front of the second room, though the line was condensed several times so we weren't really able to stay in one place for long - the text message based chat being shown on the projectors at that point referred to this as the "line cuddle". Eventually, the projectors switched from the chat to a live text-message based gaming thing, with some unseen host providing narration between each game via typed sentences and commands on the screen. It was actually a pretty neat diversion and a great way to keep people from getting bored when waiting in line.

I saw midblue (Anthony) and company enter the line far, far behind us at some point. Unfortunately, that glimpse was the only time I got to "see" him all weekend.

The line had actually been split into two at some point - we were lined up to enter the Expo hall, while another section of the line was purely for the keynote. I would have liked to have seen the keynote, but our pursuit of swag wound up being the higher priority, and upon entering the expo hall a few minutes after 2pm, we made a beeline to NVIDIA, Intel, etc to further this goal. Of course, most of the companies present had various hoops that people had to jump through in order to get free stuff. NVIDIA's was by far the most convoluted, where a card was given that had to receive punch marks from six locations; a couple of these locations were within NVIDIA's main booth, several more were at various partners' booths, and the last one was upstairs in the LAN gaming area.

Having divergent interests, me and the other three were quickly separated in the Expo hall, though we eventually met up again later. I stopped by the Aksys Games booth and was one of the first to try out their Deathsmiles score challenge. As it turns out, they were running the tournament on Mega Black Label 1.1 (a mode that no one had actually played, since it was so new it wasn't even available to those who own the Japanese version of the game yet), having people play the default first stage on Lv999 and seeing how much score they can get before dying. To make things worse on me, the person who set up my run didn't give a complete run-down of what the controls in 1.1 actually were. Naturally, I failed badly.

The Antec booth gave out these rather ridiculous looking gold-painted necklaces with a large pendant emblazoned with the Antec logo at the end. Being spotted on a return trip to the Antec booth wearing this pendant would reward us with a raffle ticket. Also, the pendant itself has a promo code usable on Antec's online store.

Later, Kevin and I found ourselves at the Triton booth, playing Modern Warfare 2 at their demo stations advertising their gaming headsets. Kevin also entered himself into a tournament that would take place Saturday morning.

After somehow completely missing the people giving out the Intel Game On contest badges (where being spotted wearing one throughout the convention earned prizes), we managed to obtain a few by chance at the Intel booth. We would eventually obtain a lot more, to the point that each of us had 3-4 of the badges on us at any given time.

Meeting up with Tony, who had mapped out some lucrative raffle opportunities, helped us complete our NVIDIA scavenge hunt. This took us out of the Expo hall for the first time since entering it early afternoon, as we made our way to the final clue - the location of the "first" 3-D FPS tournament. Despite never having played the game (Bad Company 2), we decided to sign up, as we had the requisite 4-man team needed to enter. This tournament was scheduled to take place Saturday afternoon.

Making our way back to the Expo hall, I received a call from jguzman (Josh) while on the escalator leading back down to the second floor. Coincidentally, after reaching the end of the escalator, Trevor (one of Josh's roommates) flagged me down and pointed out that Josh was standing about two feet to my left. We had finalized dinner plans - Josh and I were meeting up with aarana (Kelly) and chiieddy (Elana) at Haru, at 6pm.

Returning to the Expo hall, the main goals were participating in various scheduled raffles - first was the Kingston raffle, in which they were giving away various items, including solid state drives. While we waited for the raffle to begin, we observed an apparent feature that had been ongoing all day - one-on-one Counterstrike 1.6 matches were set up between an apparent "pro gamer" and attendees, and they counted the number of kills the attendees managed on their champion toward a prize which I never quite discovered the identity of. Anyway, we won nothing.

Next stop was the Antec booth, where we had previously obtained our raffle tickets. Unlike Kingston's British-accented, traffic-stopping antics, Antec simply wrote down the winning raffle ticket numbers on a whiteboard so people with winning tickets could check in at their leisure. As it turned out, I held one of the winning raffle tickets, and obtained a portable notebook cooler.

With little else to do at that point, we headed toward Haru, being near the time of Josh's reservation. We ran into Josh on the way (saving us the need to locate the restaurant) and Kelly arrived at the restaurant shortly after we did. Tony, Kevin, and Enoch weren't actually included in Josh's reservation, but they chose to go in anyway, while Josh, Kelly and I waited for Elana to arrive. About ten or so minutes later, the four of us entered the restaurant, and were conveniently seated at the table next to Kevin and the others.

As it was apparently Restaurant Week, I opted for a three-part meal consisting of a seafood salad, a ribeye steak, and green tea mochi ice cream for dessert. The ribeye was prepared in thinly-cut slices, which were cooked to the point of dry rubber despite the fact I had ordered it medium. Despite being overcooked, it was rather tasty, as was the ice cream - though the mochi portion was amusingly difficult to eat. Also, apparently the guys at the next table had ordered Ohtoro sashimi - to the tune of $10 a piece - as part of their meal.

Kevin and the others headed out before we were done, and Josh and I spent quite some time chatting with Kelly and Elana before parting ways at the Prudential Center entrance. From there, Josh went directly to line up for the Mega64 panel while I opted to meet the other guys back at the hotel room before joining him. Unfortunately, after waiting in line for the panel for about half an hour, we found we had missed the cap by what must have been a matter of minutes considering how close we were.

With nothing else to do, we took our time wandering through areas we hadn't yet explored on our way back to the hotel. We spent a decent amount of time looking into the tabletop game area. In the room where games were available for rent, we saw a tabletop D&D game of some sort being played on a Microsoft Surface, where the software was actually able to recognize physical pieces placed on the board, rendered entirely in software. (There was also a Microsoft Surface in the Sheraton lobby for general use.)

Tony wound up trying out and later buying a game named Pentago, which basically involves two or more players attempting to match 5 pieces in a straight line on a board where segments can be rotated 90 degrees by each player. Taking this back to the hotel room, we played this for a while, and also played some games on the DS - Kevin and Enoch discovered Mr. Driller's multiplayer mode, and we eventually all played a little Clubhouse Games. The night done, we went to sleep not long after that.