Update: We're here at PAX Prime 2013. We'll be on the ground at Seattle's Washington State Convention Center, bringing you the latest news from this beloved gaming convention.
It's that time of the year again! People are scrambling to finish their costumes, developers are starting to trickle more news about indie games and hotels are getting booked up. This can only mean PAX Prime is right around the corner.
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10 things to expect from PAX Prime 2013
Starting Aug. 30, PAX will be kicking off its tenth consecutive Prime in Seattle at the Washington State Convention Center (and various other nearby venues) hosting keynotes, concerts and of course, hundreds of digital and table top gaming booths. Oh, and of course, exhibitions.
The official schedule is available here, and more announcements have been pouring out of the PAX Twitter feed. Based on the info they've released, here's what's going down at PAX Prime so far, and a little of what we're still hoping to see.
1. Storytime with Peter Molyneux
Announced in the beginning of July, Prime's 2013 Storytime Speaker will be Peter Molyneux of Fable and Black & White fame.
We aren't exactly sure what the topic of conversation will be yet, but The Next Web recently interviewed Molyneux about his upcoming Project GODUS, and leaving Microsoft to create indie game studio 22cans.
Aside from a hatred for Zynga-esque games because of their "aggressive monetization," Molyneux speaks about the process of his Kickstarter-based passion project GODUS as a learning experience. He suggests "other creators test their campaigns before launch, ask for half the money they need, and be 'super clear' about their message" - subjects which seem to be on par with the theme of PAX.
On choosing Molyneux as the speaker, Penny Arcade's Jerry "Tycho Brahe" Holkins wrote on the site, "Peter Molyneux was like a Rockstar to me, one of the first whose games I could seek out by personal pedigree. I really, really can't wait to hear what he has to say."
And we can't wait either. Cliff Bleszinski, the man who redefined the third-person shooter with Gears of War, gave an funny and heartfelt Story Time earlier this year at PAX East. He also offered some real food for thought with his off-handed comments about the Oculus Rift and future of VR gaming, so you never know what might pop out of Molyneux's mouth. Maybe a comment on the hilarious parody Twitter feed, @PeterMolydeux? One can never know.
2. Four whole days of Prime
2013 will be the year of the biggest PAX Prime ever. Prime already outsizes the other PAX sessions, East, Melbourne and Dev. Now that it's stretched from three days into four, PAX goers will have even more time to check out all the great games and lively panels.
Monday, the fourth and final day of this year's Prime, looks to be no tacked on extra 24 hours. The day kicks off with a presentation by Nvidia, followed by a what will surely be a sobering panel on Shooters and Shooters: exploring the media's obsession with connecting video games and mass shootings.
Fans of Penny Arcade creators Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins shouldn't miss Gabe & Tycho, as interviewed by Robert Khoo at 12:30. Khoo is Penny Arcade's Business Manager, and occasionally appears in the PA strip himself. The interview will be followed by a live Q&A, and whenever the PA boys engage their audience, it always makes for a lively, sometimes bawdy discussion.
3. A truly mega Indie Megabooth
They don't call it mega for nothing; this year's Indie Megabooth will be the biggest yet. Over 80 games will be on tap for players to leap, fly, think and shoot through.
Over the years, the megabooth has grown from sample platter to full blown buffet of the indie gaming scene. With all those games and so many attendees eager to try them out, you could spend your whole PAX playing and waiting to play them.
Or you could wait for the tastemakers of the PAX 10 to point out the best of the best for you. What is the PAX 10 you say? Well...
4. The PAX 10
Every year, Penny Arcade and a team of 50 gaming industry experts go through the massive selection of indie games submitted to the Expo and select the 10 best indie games based on "gameplay and overall fun-factor."
The list includes an interesting bunch of titles mostly for PCs but also include Mac, iOS, Linux and Ouya:
Avalanche 2: Super Avalanche: A climbing platformer for PC only and a sequel to popular flash game Avalanche. Built around replayability, every game is unique, and apparently quite addictive.
BADLAND: An action-adventure for iOS, this beautiful looking side-scroller features over 50 different levels and was amazingly created by a two-man indie studio.
Escape Goat 2: Another sequel to a popular first run, this one is a puzzle platformer for the PC starring a goat and mouse (interesting combo of creatures) all in HD and hand drawn by artist Randy O'Connor.
Gunpoint: Playing as a freelance spy, you rewire electronic devices in various buildings (with gorgeous city backdrop art) to trick unsuspecting NPC's in this stealth puzzle game.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime: A romantic sounding title, the neon infused micro-platformer features one to two players working together on a spaceship fighting bad guys. Their site likens the game as "Jumpman meets Asteroids meets Han saying 'Don't get cocky.'"
Owlboy: As if from a Miyazaki film, this vertical platforming adventure game lets you explore a world in the sky playing as Otus a humanoid owl boy trying to save his village.
Ridiculous Fishing: This casual iOS game basically is what it says it is - fishing ridiculously with with guns, chainsaws, toasters etc., by tilting your device to reel in geometric sea creatures amidst bold colors.
Rogue Legacy: A strange premise is given with this 2D PC platformer as the website indicates "You will die, but your children will avenge you. They might be genetically deficient, but that's ok." Gameplay changes depending on genealogy based characters where "anyone can be a hero" to overcome the each unique level.
Sokobond: Available on three platforms, and soon to be released on iOS and Android, this whimsical game should be a delight for science lovers everywhere as it combines your puzzle-solving skills and knowledge of chemistry.
Towerfall: PC and the only Ouya based game, this archery-heavy combat platformer uses local party gaming to focus on friendly rivalry and rapid but simple combat.
5. A can't miss Last of Us panel
There are dozens of panels at PAX Prime, and none of the seem missable. At any one time at PAX, a gamer can feel himself being pulled in a myriad different directions. Do you go to the panel hosted by the creator of your favorite game? Or do you go to a talk about an upcoming release, hoping for a peek at next year's hottest new title?
Such is the fate of a PAX goer. However, for any hardcore gamer and fan of mature, gritty games, there's one can't miss panel: Pitching The Last of Us. Hosted by Creative Director Neil Druckmann and Game Director Bruce Straley, those two creative giants will tell you how they got millions of dollars to make a dour game about the apocalypse. We'll be there, and so should you.
6. Gamers like music too...
... especially if it's nerdcore music. PAX Prime concerts will feature: The Protomen, MC Frontalot, The Super Guitar Bros, The Doubleclicks, Mega Ran, Adam Warrock, Supercommuter, Bit Brigade, Hideo, as well as a special performance by Supergiant.
7. Xbox One and PS4 on the floor
It hasn't been confirmed, but we're thinking Microsoft and Sony will showcase the Xbox One and Playstation 4 in the exhibition hall, especially after letting Comic Con have the first public play-through.
It seems fair (and likely) that PAX will also let the Northwest coast experience the next-gen consoles like their fellow cos-players did in San Diego.
8. Is this PAX big enough for the both of us? Squaring off for the future of video games
The most wonderful thing about a PAX show might be the inclusiveness. Unlike E3, it's open to the public, so anyone with the cash and the wherewithal can plunk down for a ticket and attend. And unlike Comic Con, it's not so large and unwieldy that you have to camp out for hours just to get into your panel of choice.
It also incorporates gaming of all kinds: tabletop and digital, indie and blockbuster. That second division is what intrigues us the most, as the two rarely bump up against each other as much as they do at PAX.
The point is no better illustrated than by the PAX schedule itself. At 4pm on Saturday, attendees can choose between a talk about Minecraft, which claims the future of gaming is open source, or attend a taping of Xbox's impresario Major Nelson's podcast.
Gaming is approaching a crossroads. Could the future of this hobby and billion dollar industry truly be open source? Or will the console remain king? Or perhaps we'll see something of a middle path, with consoles becoming more open and less expensive to develop on? Only time, and some of the PAX speakers, can say.
9. What's it like to develop for next-gen?
PlayStation 4 has all the gigabytes and Xbox One has a built in Kinect. Both systems are powerful, networked to heck and back and chocked full of never before seen features. So what's it like to program a game for them?
There will be tons of developers delivering keynotes, hosting demos and otherwise on hand at PAX Prime. Expect some real headline grabbing to come out of the show this year as more and more beans start spill about crafting titles for the next generation of console hardware, and the differences between working on the PS4 and the Xbox One.
10. PC Gamer presents, CatFantastic Live: A Wholly Insane PC Gaming Trivia Show
Join editors and our colleagues from PC Gamer for "the world's most arbitrary and least fair PC gaming quiz show." It all goes down live in the Serpent Theatre on Monday at 1pm.
Last year's PC Gamer Megapanel was a roaring success. If you missed it or simply want to relive the glory, check it out below.
Stay tuned for more!
As usual, passes are sold out by now but keep checking back with TechRadar for updates about the latest PAX Prime news.