PAX East officially came to a close this evening, following three solid days of gaming insanity. The Penny Arcade Expo originally started as a small gaming convention on the west coast in 2004 has grown in to an unstoppable juggernaut that is by far the convention to go to if you're a gamer. The entire event actually has a fairly interesting history behind it, especially considering its meager beginnings with only a few thousand attendees. But, like most things Penny Arcade touches, (such as the Child's Play charity) it's not entirely surprising what a runaway success the event has become.
PAX East is a spinoff of the main west coast PAX (affectionally referred to as "PAX Prime") and as such, was a much more intimate event. This didn't stop anyone from having a great time, whether you're in to pen and paper RPG's, card games, board games, handhelds, or console and PC gaming, PAX East had something to offer. If you're an iPhone developer, there are much better events to go to such as GDC or WWDC, but if you're a gamer of any kind, you really owe it to yourself to at least give some serious consideration to attending the nearest PAX.
Attending the event with a media badge is a little awkward, since as someone who loves every subcategory of gaming, there's nothing I would have liked more than to spend the whole weekend playing Magic: The Gathering, D&D, and every pick up game of Settlers of Catan I can get my hands on... But, in the age old TouchArcade tradition of taking one for the team, I did everything I could to meet up with everyone who contacted me including fan favorites like Venan Entertainment as well as fans of the site who just wanted to talk iPhone and forum drama.
We're going to have more followup posts in the upcoming week as everyone gets back home and starts sending us assets for things from PAX, but in the time being, here are some things to look forward to:
Space Miner is getting a substantial update. We absolutely loved the game in our review, forum members are crazy about it, and it's one of the few
iPhone video games I've played in a very long time that I enjoyed so much I immediately restarted on the next higher difficulty upon completing the game.
If you're like me, and have almost extracted everything possible out of Space Miner, you'll be happy to know that they're expanding the end-game to include more licenses, weapons to buy, new alien tech to find, and new Plus+ awards to earn. They're calling this a "HD update", as in addition to the gameplay tweaks, they've also implemented new shaders and other graphical effects to make the game look even better.
But wait, there's more. If the included difficulty modes weren't enough for you, they're also implementing a HardcORE perma-death mode. While there's no doubt that perma-death gameplay modes aren't for everyone, I really like the thrill that comes from the potential of losing everything from dying, and judging by the popularity of iPhone rogulikes, I doubt I'm alone on that.
But wait, there's even more. (I realize I'm starting to sound at Billy Mays at this point.) Space Miner Blast is in the works, a spinoff game that they hope to be done in a month or so. Venan is taking the basic framework of Space Miner, and turning it in to an arcade style action game where you fight an onslaught of robots and asteroids and get upgrades on the fly. Details are scarce right now, but I can't help but give a massive thumbs up to turning Space Miner in to a pick up and play action game.
Best of all, Space Miner 2 also apparently is currently on the whiteboard at Venan. Right now we know even less about the sequel than Space Miner Blast, but I've been assured it will be even more awesome in every way imaginable. Finally, Venan is looking forward to the iPad, but really want to get physical devices to test on before committing to anything.
Overall, PAX East was amazing, and as I mentioned earlier, you've really got to figure out a way to go to one regardless of what kind of gamer you are. If you have the choice, I'd attend the main PAX Prime, but if traveling across the country is an issue, PAX East is just as good. Stay tuned to TouchArcade, as we will have more details on the games I've mentioned in the PAX posts as soon as we get them.