Saturday, August 25, 2007

PAX 2007 day one

First day of PAX was today, at the new and improved venue. Before heading down this afternoon, I had lunch with Heather, Craig and Lysee at Duke's Chowder House over on Greenlake. Nothing like a little seafood to prepare you for a day of gaming. Got down there around 1:45pm and was surprised to find that there was no line around the block. In previous years, I'd always spent the first hour of PAX sitting on a sidewalk in Bellevue. It seems that they'd moved the line inside for this one. Although the (new and improved) line to get in was a 40 minute Disneyland style walk back and forth through a makeshift cattle still seemed faster than years prior.

John and Scott showed up and ate their lunch while we waited for the entry lines to die down a bit, then we went in. On the way into the con we were presented with the swag bag and a bottle of Bawls energy drink for free. Very nice. First thing we decided to do was sign up for the console tournies...then we headed to the exhibition hall. First thing you see when you enter is a huge Xbox 360 booth. They were demoing Mass Effect, but I couldn't get close enough to really hear it.

Next it was over to the Wii booth, where they were showing off the new Metroid. I played a game of Mario Strikers soccer with John there. It's rather fun. Apparently, it's out now. I haven't bought a new game for the Wii in awhile...maybe this one will be it? Maybe I should rent it first....all the Wii games are great for 5 minutes.

We checked out the Ubisoft, Rockstar and Eidos booths, along with a quick glimpse of the new Rock Band game before getting into the line for the keynote in the big theater. The line was huge and snaked through the hall, but I was easily able to save 3 seats while John and Scott ran off to get their Omegathon badges punched. They arrived just in time to see Wil Wheaton do his keynote speech, which was rather hilarious.

After Wil, Gabe and Tycho arrived to do their first Q&A of the weekend. It was great as well, with several funny questions and answers throughout. The strangest part of it was at the end, when they announced that they couldn't get Jack Thompson to show up, but they did get the next best thing. They then announced that Uwe Boll was here for a surprise Q&A and they left the stage. For a moment, I figured they were joking. Uwe Boll is notorious not just for making horrible films, but specifically for making horrible adaptations of video games. The guys at Penny Arcade have never said anything nice about him, so why would he be here?

What happened next was both hilarious and sad at the same time. Uwe Boll appeared on stage to a chorus of boos mixed in with some applause. The room, packed with thousands of people....emptied almost immediatley. People got up in the middle of him introducing himself and left.

This was the scene moments earlier as Tycho was singing a song. Standing room only:

And the same shot 5 minutes into Uwe Boll's surprise Q&A.

I didn't know whether to laugh at the guy or feel sorry for him. I don't know why his manager said "We want Uwe Boll at PAX 2007" but he's probably being fired as we speak. This was the most hostile crowd I've ever seen. People got up and asked him questions like "How do you sleep at night?" and "Who in God's name continues to fund your movies, because I have a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell them." He seemed unphased, and showed a clip of his newest film (Postal), in which the opening scene pokes fun at the 9/11 hijackers in a cockpit talking about how many virgins they'll have waiting for them (while the passengers of flight 93 bang on the cabin door). After the clip ran, even more people left. One girl grabbed the mic and told him to "Get the fuck off the stage, what the hell was that racist shit?". Most of the remaining people in attendance either laughed or applauded.

Like a bad train wreck, I was unable to look away, so I took advantage of the now empty giant room and moved to the front. John, Scott and I stayed for the rest of his unmoderated panel, where he basically listened to geek after geek get up and tear him a new one. There was no moderator, no one to filter the questions....just a bunch of angry dorks and a German director known for making awful video game flicks. George Bush would have gotten a warmer reception at the Democratic national convention.

One of my favorite comments: "You're in a room full of your harshest critics and you can't fight us all, how does that make you feel?". I actually felt sorry for the poor guy as he tried to explain that his boxing match against one of his critics was a one time only thing. He was sort of funny, but it wasn't enough to save him. At least he'll laugh his way to the bank with his next paycheck......not that I'll be seeing his new movie or anything.

After that horrible scene we went back to the Expo hall. It's so huge this year that we didn't have time to see nearly half of it before it closed for the evening. Afterwards, John and I did some DS gaming while Scott entered a Magic tournament, then at about 10pm tonight we jumped into the first console tourney of the event: Guitar Hero. Unfortunately for us, the rules said you had to play on the Hard setting (or worse) and neither of us is that good. We failed our practice song and decided to gracefully bow out lest we stick around and be slaughtered.

We watched one of the concerts (The One Ups) when Scott called and said he was done. Came home...and here I am. The day is done, and I'm off to bed so I can get a good night's rest before getting up to do it all over again tomorrow.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Presidents concert

Taken with my camera phone at a special Presidents concert on the lawn at work. I was right up front and thought I only had this camera to snap pics with. Later, I realized...I had my point and shoot in my backpack the whole time. Curses!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The day of lining up for video games

I started the morning off by waiting in line for a couple of hours to buy Bioshock. Then I went to work. Afterwards, I decided to meet up with John and wait in line for a couple of hours to see a preview of Halo 3 down at the Seattle Center on the big Imax screen.

It was awesome, and I may have to write up a post about it tomorrow...but for now, I'm exhausted. I think this is the most time I've ever spent in line in one day for something that had nothing to do with either Star Wars or roller coasters.

Bed time.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Big Daddy is busted

This morning at 7:30am I got in the car and started my commute to Redmond. This is pretty standard practice for me except for a couple of things:
1: It's a little earlier than I like to leave
2: I wasn't going to work or the gym today.

By 7:55am this morning, I had already visited the Jack in the Box drive thru and gotten a wonderful hot breakfast. I plunked down an "ass mat" (a nice little foam pillow designed to make concrete comfortable) and sat down outside EBGames in Sammamish, WA. I was alone. My wait for Bioshock had begun.

So why wait in line by myself for a copy of a video game I've already beaten?

First of all...Bioshock is awesome. Even though I've had a chance to play through it already, I love it...and wanted to make sure to buy my own copy on launch day. I plan to go through it at least another couple of times trying to unlock all the secrets.

On Friday I learned that there was a special edition of Bioshock, which came with a Big Daddy figure. By the way, the "Big Daddy" is one of the game's toughest villians. Unfortunately, by the time I heard about this....the special edition of Bioshock was sold out everywhere I called. I tried at least 5 or 6 stores before I called Sammamish EB Games. According to the sales clerk I talked to yesterday, they had a very limited number of copies for sale on launch day. After calling another 5 or 6 stores, I decided that even though it is out of the way, I would make my stand in Sammamish.

I was only alone for only 15 minutes when the 2nd person in line arrived. He was a 17 year old store employee who was there to pick up his pre-ordered limited editions. He informed me that they only had ONE copy for sale today, and that because I was first I would probably get it. He also joked that he could just go in and buy them all, but that he wasn't going to do that. I thanked him for that courtesy. Now that I had this info, I was a little more excited.....and felt a little more justified in being outside in the rain at 8am waiting to buy a video game. I called John, who was up in Lynnwood trying to buy the game as well. He chose Lynnwood because it was closer to home. At 9:15, he was the only one in line there. We were both doing pretty well so far.

90 minutes passed since my arrival and more people eventually joined us. No one who walked up looked happy to see a line. This was the scene around 9:30 this morning:

A quick census revealed that everyone in line was there to buy the same game we were. Almost no one had pre-ordered. Within the next 30 minutes another 4 or 5 people showed up, all for the same game. The store manager came out with a case of Halo Fuel for us, and we each opened one up. By 10am I was feeling caffeinated and very pleased that I was first in line.

When the doors opened, I went up to the register and asked for a special edition copy of Bioshock. The clerk informed me that because I had not pre-ordered, I would be receiving the copy with the busted Big Daddy figure in it. He also gave me a piece of paper with a website on it where I could return my broken dude.

Figuring this was the best I was going to get....I bought it and left. First time I've probably ever knowingly purchased something that was broken and wanted to keep it. I called John, who had struck out in Lynnwood and was trying another store. Later I learned that he struck out everywhere he tried and ended up with the regular edition. Alas, these Big Daddies were hard to catch.

I got back to work, opened up my prize...and was a little surprised to find out just how broken Big Daddy was. He's missing both arms and a leg, all severed nicely at the joints. I wonder if perhaps he battled a Jedi?

Here's my artist's rendition of how that battle might have gone down.

Overall, I don't mind waiting a few weeks to get a new Big Daddy figure mailed to me. Perhaps by then, I will have beaten the game completely. Until that day comes, this broken one will be a reminder that you should never mess with a Sith.....and you should always pre-order your games.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Everything tastes better when it's Halo

I've never been a big fan of Mountain Dew. I don't know whether it's the commercials that imply it's the exclusive drink of base jumpers, the fact that it looks like pee or just the taste of the stuff. Whatever the reason, it's never been my favorite soda.

A year or two ago, they came out with a new flavor of "The Dew" called "Code Red". It promised a blast of cherry flavor. Seeing as how I love all things cherry, I had to try it. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it tasted really good...but I still didn't make it a regular choice. WHen I want a cherry flavored beverage, Cherry Coke remains my first pick. Mountain Dew has never made anything to shoot that can off the fence.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, I happened to be in a 7/11, where I had planned to buy a Slurpee. I was all set to get my brain freeze on, when I stumbled upon a bottle of "Halo Fuel", a new flavor of Mountain Dew in the drink aisle. If the fact that my favorite video game has inspired it's own beverage wasn't enough to inspire the purchase, it also said "limited edition" right there on the bottle. I had no choice but to buy one right then and there.

After my first sip, I realized...this wasn't just Mountain Dew Code Red in a shiny new bottle with the Master Chief on it...this was a cherry flavored experience all it's own. Being a rational person, I realized that this new flavor could be in my head. After all, there was a Master Chief on the bottle and Halo has been known to make things taste better. There was only one way to find out:

An Official Mountain Dew Code Red vs. Mountain Dew Halo Fuel taste test.

I conducted a scientific taste test similar in method to the infamous "Pepsi Challenge". Equal amounts of Code Red and Halo Fuel were poured into plain paper cups from the kitchen at work. A co-worker and I each sipped a sample of each soda (say that 5 times fast)...and found there to be several differences.

Difference number one: Halo Fuel is more orange in color than Code Red.
Difference number two: Halo Fuel has a stronger odor than Code Red. It's a citrus smell, almost orange. Actually smells a bit like Sunkist orange soda.
Difference number three: Halo Fuel tastes more like cherries!

Number 3 was what sold me. It's still not better than Cherry Coke, or Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper....or even cherry Kool Aid. Still....when none of those three things are around, make mine a Mountain Dew!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Seafair Saturday

In numerical order
Originally uploaded by JoshEEE

Today I went out to the I-90 bridge and watched the air show from the bridge deck, which was completely closed down to traffic. It was a wonderful, sunny day and the jets flew right over the bridge several times. This year, there were also some Migs in the show, which was really cool to see. They aren't nearly as loud as the Blue Angles (I believe it's because they are single engine planes)...but they're very impressive to watch.

Took a bunch of pictures, bought lemonade from a stand on Mercer Island where a couple of kids were cleaning house at 2 bucks a glass. They had several 5 gallon drums of it, and they were almost sold out. I remember selling it for a quarter.

I am old.

Anyway, besides the lemonade, as a souveneir for the day, I got an interesting sunburn which left a wonderful white line where my camera strap was hanging around my neck.

Afterwards, Craig and I drove up to Everett and picked up a Dania display cabinet Heather found for me on Craigslist. It goes into the Star Wars room tomorrow. We finished off the evening with a BBQ at my house, then turned off all the lights and watched the Seafair fireworks from the window while listening to the Mariner's game on the radio.

Nice day.