PAX Aus: Dez’ Top 5 Highlights

So PAX has come and gone for another year.
Were you there? What were your favourite parts? Which streamers did you bump into? Did you catch any of the amazing panels? What games did you play? Does your wallet hate you like mine does?
I find after a convention, there is always a post-con depression. Your feet hurt, you may have got the PAX-pox, you are exhausted and yet you just don’t want it to end. As all the exhaustion was worth the dice rolled, the games played, the esports watched and the friendships made and continued.
So let’s try and beat those post-con blues and have a look at my favourite parts of PAX Australia 2017:

5. Kanga Esports Team winning the Oceanic Championship in Paladins

When it comes to esports, I’m by no means an expert. I’m probably not even a beginner to be fair. But during PAX, I spent several hours watching esports and loved it. It is funny, though I know very little about Paladins, I have seen it advertised a few times but watching it live with players right there, the commentator calling the plays and those around jumping around I can see why esports is growing like it is. The excitement, the intensity and the entertainment are second to none. I can find myself really getting into this more. I must also say I had the pleasure of meeting Owner and Player Haydz at the launch party and he was awesome. He was exhausted and yet still humoured me with all my questions and puppy-like excitement for his win.

4. Level Up Dice

I first came across Level Up Dice at PAX Australia last year. Since then, they have blown up. I spend a lot of my time on social media and looking at the latest games from international conventions and over the last year, Level Up Dice’s name has been popping up everywhere: all the different PAX events & GenCon just to name a few.
They have really taken the Dice game to new heights. They custom make dice from all types of metals and semi-precious stones; these including Amethyst, Dalmatian Jasper and Tungsten (one of the hardest metals known to man). Still, my favourite ones are the caged dice. The machining on these dice are second to none and the D4 needs to be seen to be believed.

3. Paperville Panic by Ultimerse

This adorably cute and super fun VR game was the best indie game I played in all of PAX. It has an art styling mixed between South Park and Minecraft. It is colourful and cheeky but still very challenging. It is actually the first VR game that hasn’t made me nauseous at all.
After speaking to Meredith, the PR representative for Ultimerse, whose passion and love for this game, VR as a whole and her team can be seen in everything she does. I have never heard anyone speak so highly about how amazing her team is or how in awe she is of their talent. Meredith informed me that they have been pushing the FPS rate up to help assist with the nauseous feeling some people get. Though it was a hard thing to accomplish in the 4 weeks it took to produce this demo, in the long run, I thought it was worth it.
Meredith also introduced me to several of her team; after hearing so many great things about them, I was excited to meet them:

  • A bubbly pink-haired designer named Lucy, whose excitement and enthusiasm for what she does was infectious. Every time she received a compliment about the game, she had this excited and yet embarrassed look of a proud mother being told something great about their child.
  • The project manager named Julian who was a soft-spoken man. He had a passion and excitement that beams across his face like the players that left the booth.

This game really does make me want to go out and buy a Vive. I did get to play quite a few of the indie games, but the with the amazing gameplay, the passion and love you can see from the creators and the fact I love VR, I can’t wait to see how far it can be pushed. Paperville Panic had me wanting more and is my pick of the indies for this year.

2. Tabletop Game Design Association

Every year, the TGDA brings together the latest games from designers around Australia. It is your first look at the latest soon to be released tabletop games. For anyone that hasn’t heard of the TDGA, it is a not for profit organization that has been set up by several designers to assist others with all aspect of board game design. I truly believe that this organization has single handily changed the design of board games in this country.
This year they showcased 10 games at PAX:

  • Game Salute
  • Reign (which was successfully funded on Kickstarter last year)
  • Banishment
  • War of Supremacy
  • Katamari
  • Mecha Strike Arena
  • Eye for an Eye
  • Delivery Duck
  • Fragged mini (a successful Australian RPG from several years ago who brought out their own range of minis)
  • Brigade (By Alex Wynnter, one of the foundering fathers of TDGA. It had a super successful Kickstarter from earlier this year)

It really looks like this is going to be another stellar year for Australian designers and the industry as a whole. If you didn’t check them out and are interested in tabletop gaming, I would highly recommend checking them out next year as it is the crystal ball into what is coming out of Australia in the next year.
And my favourite thing about PAX…
Actually, before I give you my number one, I should give a few honourable mentions.

  • Adam Goodrich of Procedural Worlds – Adam took the time to show me his amazing world build software asset, Gaia. It is a Unity 3D asset that allows you to make a full high definition landscaped world in around 10 mins. Adam blew me away with his software, if I hadn’t seen him start from scratch, I would have thought he just grabbed the world straight out of Witcher 3 or Skyrim.
  • Craven Studios – I have to give huge congratulations to Rocky and his team (Wife and 2 adorable daughters, who seemed to be loving the fairy floss, as much as the event itself), as they took a massive risk coming to PAX and having their own booth. For a designer that it is just starting out, it is great to see that courage and faith in their game. After sitting down with Rocky to play his 2 games, Troll Bridge and Kickin’ my Ass, I can see why he had so much faith in his games.
  • Rumu – the indie game with the most adorable robot mascot. I didn’t get to check this game out till very late on Sunday. But I feel like Rumu captured the hearts of many. Other than the puppies, the Rumu mascot was the most selfied thing at PAX. The game was also a lot of fun and though people came for the Rumu Mascot, they stayed for the game.

Ok. Now to my number one:
1. The people

The organisers, the designers, the publishers, the esports teams, the enforcers, the streamers, the panellists, the cosplayers and last, and in all honesty the most important, all the people that paid to come to the event. Without all these passionate people this event isn’t possible. We have an amazing community in this country and this event proves that 1000 times over. I see more friends, make more friends and give more hugs and high fives in this weekend than the rest of the year combined.
These were my favourite parts of PAX. What were yours? Let me know on Twitter.
So let the countdown begin to PAX Australia 2018, can’t wait to see you all there.
Images: PAX, Kanga Esports, Level Up Dice, Ultimerse, TGDA