PAX East 2018 – Thu/Fri

Two days into PAX East 2018!  Several of us from the UESP are here for the weekend, and more are showing up for the Bethesda event on Saturday!   I figured I'd summarize my experience in case anyone was interested and wants to know what it's like to attend an event like that (I personally always bugged wiki admin Jeancey for info in the past.)Before I get into that: FYI to those attending, Bethesda/ZOS don't have a booth, but you can try out Summerset in the PS4 area: download the Experience Playstation app and reserve a time (sign-ups start at 9am each day).So here's a summary of everything I did in my first two days of PAX: I got to talk to a Legends dev, try out Summerset, and see plenty of non-ES stuff….


I arrived at the convention center at 9:20 AM. The event opens at 10, so there were already long lines, but due to having a media pass for the UESP I was able to get in immediately (early access for media began at 9am).  
Entering the hall during the media hour
After determining there wasn't a Bethesda booth I ended up finding the Dire Wolf Digital booth. They were focusing on their game Eternal, as well as a card-based board game, but when I mentioned Legends they pointed me at Paul Dennen (aka Merakon), the creative director of the game.  We had a conversation for a while about the game, talking about how I and others from the UESP thought of the game and different things in it (he asked “Where do you guys stand on Red Bramman?” and I had to laugh), and I had a chance to ask some questions I was curious about: Dire Wolf comes up with the ideas for the cards/stories, and Bethesda can approve/veto it and have final control over things.  The way they come up with cards was interesting, too: some cards are designed “bottom-up”, where they decide mechanics first and fit it with a character that fits its theme later (many such cards are more generic characters, but Ayrenn was one), and for others they know what character they want to make a card of and come up with mechanics specifically for them (“Miraak, Dragonborn” is one: the “steal an enemy creature” mechanic is based on Bend Will and Miraak's ability to control dragons.)  He also mentioned that they use UESP for a reference.  I was curious whether there was a Summerset expansion or story coming for Legends since they’d done the Clockwork City story around the same time that ESO’s Clockwork City DLC was released, and he said no – not anytime soon, anyway, if they decide to do one – because they actually hadn’t been told about the new Chapter.  As we finished the conversation, we realized it was time for the expo hall to open to the public, and we knew the exact instant they opened the doors, because we could hear the gigantic ROAR of the excited crowd as people began to pour in.
Part of Dire Wolf Digital’s booth
The next thing I tried, taking advantage of my early entry, was a demo area for VR: I did a “job simulator” game where I played as a chef.  (I checked for Skyrim VR, but it wasn’t one of the options.)  This was my first time trying VR, and we could try either the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive; I opted for the latter.  Although it seemed like I had to find a perfect “sweet spot” to be able to see everything clearly (the headset kept sliding forward down my face), which was a bit annoying, it was really amazing how it felt like I was really in the game.
After that I went to the booth of one of the games I've been playing a lot lately, Brawlhalla, which is a F2P fighting game similar to Smash Bros. You could play against a dev, and would get a different prize depending on if you landed a hit, took one of his stock, or beat him. I had a pretty embarrassing showing since I was completely unfamiliar with the control scheme (more used to keyboard, or customized controller, but all they had was the default PS4 controls), but I did land some hits and got a pin (which I later traded for a pin of the character I use most, Asuri).  I talked to one of the other devs afterward about some areas of the game I’d had some difficulties with (local tournaments and support for multiple PS4 controllers – I’d been to a tournament where the equipment was brought by participants, and it was messy trying to get that to work) and asked if there were plans to update those, which he confirmed was the case, and he gave me a code for the Metadev Ember skin, which can only be obtained by meeting a dev.
The third one I wanted to make sure I hit was Cygames. I haven't played Shadowverse in a while due to ES:Legends, and haven't played Granblue Fantasy at all, but they had a highly impressive booth with a “castle”, official cosplayers, anime, etc, and a challenge to complete different activities to collect stamps. I completed it, and as a prize got a pin of the Bellringer Angel, and was entered in the raffle they'd do later for merch (which I returned for, but didn't win).
I met up with fellow ESO guild member Jonlaw98 for a while, and checked out various demos around the expo floor.  One of the most memorable was “Russian Subway Dogs”, which is based on real-life dogs in Russian subways, and involves you eating food while competing with other dogs and avoiding explosive vodka.  Another was  “Rhythm of the Universe” (aka ROTU), a VR game taking place in a sort of fantasy world and focusing on music.  In the demo, my character awakened in a sort of temple, and I found a tablet that matched a xylophone-like table; once I played the notes, a cutscene transported me into a forest, where I fed plants to a large injured creature.  It looked quite pretty, and really felt like I was in a different world – although I kept walking into walls and tables irl!  I also stopped at the Discord booth since you could get a glow-in-the-dark pin from tweeting a selfie with their Wumpus mascot, but they were already out for the day. 
Lots and lots of indie games

After that, I just walked around, and shopped at booths – got a Pokeball with a mini-figure and keychain in it, a PAX East 2018 t-shirt and scarf, and from Cygames a poster of the White Wolf of Eldwood which was art that I’ve absolutely loved since Rage of Bahamut (and the poster was normally a Japanese exclusive).  There were all kinds of merchandise stands – general game merch, dice carved from stone, board games, plushies, retro games, ocarinas, you name it. I was amused to note that Elderwood Academy had some dice boxes decorated with the dragon script from Skyrim. The fact that there was one stall selling “utility kilts” also made me laugh – are those a thing?

Dice box decorated with Skyrim’s dragon script

The city as seen from the convention center
Later, baratron told me she'd heard that ESO: Summerset had demos at the PS4 booth.  I learned that you had to reserve demo times, but that starting at 5pm they’d be opening it up to anyone who walked up.  I returned some time after that and was able to get my hands on Summerset. I played through the small tutorial – in which you find yourself trapped by a mysterious entity named K’Tora, in a “mind trap” – and then just ran around the world.  There was definitely a lot more verticality in the world compared to the zones we know already, and Summerset was beautiful, from the architecture of the bridges and wayshrines to the flowers everywhere. I saw vineyards near Rellenthil, as well as greenhouses, which I thought was interesting since we haven't seen greenhouses in the games before.  There were new creatures – the monstrous Yaghra, large deer-like creatures that I think were called Indrik, small antelope-like Springbok, a type of raccoon/lemur-like critter called Alinor Ringtail, coral crabs (which look very similar to the ones with mushrooms on their backs in Vvardenfell, just with coral instead). Among NPC interactions I heard one Altmer complaining about how their paradise was being turned into a tourist attraction, and another scolding an Orc for treating her like an equal rather than someone with higher status. I also started a quest with Razum-dar and laughed at his comment about how you can tell when a name isn't an Altmer name, because it doesn't have enough syllables. This was an early build – baratron would learn the next day that it was from Februrary – so there were several things not yet finished, which was to be expected.  I'd just finally found Alinor when it reached 6pm and the expo hall closed. We didn't do a lot for the rest of the day aside from getting supper and doing a little grocery shopping.
Having seen pretty much everything I really wanted to on the first day, I woke up later and went to the convention center closer to 2 pm (walked, despite the snow).  It was packed – way busier than the day before. The Discord booth was already out of pins for the day, and the PS4 reservations were already booked up, so I just hung out with guildmates Dro and Jonlaw at the convention center, made a post office run, and returned.  (It was very snowy for much of this day.)

At one point I came across a band called Super Soul Bros, who would be performing in one of the theaters later and was playing cover songs of video game music, and I had to laugh at a cosplayer who had devil horns/tail and the EA logo. Baratron got a chance to play ESO and explore the jewelry crafting, which she tweeted about later.  

We found the jewellery crafting station in Alinor & here’s everything we know. There are 5 tiers: Pewter covers Levels 1-24, Copper covers Levels 26-50 (Level 25 appears to be missing). Silver covers CP 10-70 , Electrum covers CP 80 to 140, and Platinum covers CP 150-160.
— UESP (@UESP_net) April 7, 2018

The trait stones are Arcane – Cobalt, Healthy – Antimony, Robust – Zinc. When you deconstruct a tempered ring or necklace, you get grains of the temper (raw) which have to be refined into bars. This is probably deliberate, to slow down the rate of everyone getting gold jewellery.
— UESP (@UESP_net) April 7, 2018
After watching her for a while, Dro, Jon, and I went to the Prudential Center mall for supper – where a mixup at the Cheesecake Factory resulted in a different Jon who also had a carryout getting our food instead, so we got free cheesecake for it, which was awesome.  The Prudential Skywalk Observatory was right there, so Dro and I went up and got a good view of the city at night – definitely try something like that at some point if you're ever in the city.
Saturday is the Bethesda Gameplay Day, and Dave is planning on coming, as are other users of the UESP from the Discord, guild, and so forth. We'll be the ones with UESP shirts and pins.   If you're planning on going, come say hi!
(This is part 1 of my two-part summary of PAX East 2018.  Part 2, covering the Bethesda Gameplay Day on Saturday, can be read here.)


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