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PAX AUS 2013

So!  PAX AUS is a thing that happened.

I had not actually planned on to go to PAX AUS. Well, I did want to, but the tickets sold out five months in advance, which is something that has never happened to an Australian con ever, so I was left with nothing but jealous regret and focused my con hopes and energies elsewhere.

Until, Tuesday, a whole two days before said event, a friend hooked me up with a third party who had a spare ticket for sale!  At face value, even!

I frantically booked the cheapest flights and hotel I could find at such short notice, and so a matters of hours later, I was going to PAX! :D

It was fantastic. Totally worth it!  So glad I didn't miss out.


It was easily the best run con I've been to in Australia. Not to say there weren't hiccups - the public transport in particular was a bit of a sticking point, and Melbourne weather remains the peculiarly aggressive beast that it is, and the con itself was sold out therefore entirely fully to bursting, and the venue itself had certain unfortunate limitation in terms of theatre size, but the whole thing was just run so well and it was amazing to see that even as the con progressed they were getting better at running it! Like when it appeared on the Friday that lines for demos on the show floors were getting out of hand and clogging the walkways, throughout the day and on the Saturday yellow tape started appearing on the floor providing paths for queues, and when the cafes found themselves similarly overwhelmed, the next day there were extra food trucks brought in. And there were also volunteers everywhere, who always seemed to have their finger on the button and knew exactly what was going on. The Enforcers did a great job! I sincerely hope other convention organisers were there and took note.

The line to get in was just... nuts. I've seen some truly ridiculous lines thanks to Supanova in the past but this was... I cannot even explain how long the line was. I couldn't even see where the line ended. That said, once it did get moving it moved quite fast so it wasn't a problem.  And also, lines at PAX suddenly ceased to matter when you realised that you could just park yourself in line and play handheld or board games, or collect Nintendo streetpasses. Guys, I got so many streetpasses.  The Streetpass Mii Plaza on the 3DS was a thing I'd mostly forgotten about, because outside of Tokyo I've never really been lucky enough to get more than one a week, if that.  But suddenly I was maxing out my streetpasses as fast as I could clear them.  From people all over the world, too!  I was picking up people from the Unites States and New Zealand and Japan every single state in Australia including the Northern Territory and Tasmania, and even one dude from Finland!

Let's just say, some serious streetpass bingeing occurred, and I was apparently not the only one getting drunk.

I only cosplayed on one of the days, the Friday.  PAX I discovered is not really a cosplay con, the ratio was something like 100:1, unlike the maybe 10:1 of Supanova or the ridiculous 1:1 of Manifest or Wai-Con, where you start to feel kind of awkward if you're not in cosplay.

That said, there were plenty of awesome cosplayers kicking around!  I grabbed photos of a few.


There was this incredibly excellent Link kicking around the Nintendo booth on the Saturday. I hope he got lots of cool free swag!  Also, it was neat to see a Link wearing one of the other tunics for a change!

Speaking of Links, for some odd reason... Iron Link.


It's incredibly awesome and impressive, but a part of me is like 'you went to so much effort, why didn't you just do Iron Man?'  Unless maybe he did do Iron Man and decided to recycle it? Hmm.


An absolutely incredible Midna with a surplus of Links to boss around.




A bajillion random cosplayers outside of the League of Legends booth. Not actually sure if they're all League of Legends cosplays or not. It is somewhat difficult to tell sometimes.




These guys were very cool. A White Mage and Black Mage chilling in the handheld lounge.


Jaw-dropping. That is indeed a skull inside a helmet.


Ruby from RWBY! Very topical, since the first episode has only just come out and Rooster Teeth were constantly playing the trailer on their stand. (From this if you are unaware).

This is the only pic I have of my Journey cosplay from the weekend, although I have worn this costume before so no bigge. (I just did some quick repairs the day before, it was the only video-game themed costume both warm enough and able to be prepared on such short notice.)

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Hanging with an epic Wario.

The costume got a great response, though! Haha, better than Supanova even which was just heaps and heaps of kids and parents who decided I looked safe enough to pose for pics with. A couple of people actually asked me if I bought it or made it myself which was both an awesome compliment but also had me going 'are you blind?' because dodgy hood ears and fraying everywhere. Got interviewed too by some Americans, I kind of ran off at the end of the interview somewhat ungracefully because I am terrible at thinking on my feet, ooops! I was also a little too slow to catch on to all of their terrible Journey puns.

Funniest thing, though, was one person ran up to me and asked if I was Dean. I was not Dean. Then only an hour later another person came up to me and asked if I was Anne.  (Spoiler alert: I was also not Anne).


Maybe one of these guys? :D

(I felt the urge to go lead them through the con, searching for QR codes)

Oh! QR codes were a thing!  There was an app for the convention, and hidden around the convention on the various banner were QR codes you could scan for XP to unlock a phrase and get a prize!  It was like a meta-game for the convention. The cubes were gone by the time I managed, though did nab some Penny Arcade stickers.

The expo itself was laid out across a few buildings, there was the PC area which I only breezed through once, along with two theatres which I also didn't see the inside of much since I continually vastly underestimated how early I needed to line up for a panel. You would think after so many Supanovas I would be aware of this phenomenon, but in the end the only panel I made it into was the cosplay one.  K and Aly (National Cosplay Champs) and Sly (Madman Cosplay Co-ordinator) and two other very good but unknown to me cosplayers. I am a little regretful to say that the panel itself felt like a bit of a bust - everything K and Aly had to say was great, but the majority of it was hogged by the other two who kind of actually made cosplay sort of... unrelateable.  It was kind of weird!  It wasn't even that a lot of the stuff they said was bad, and there were certainly some good highlights, but... I mean, the point of the panel seemed to be about encouraging people to cosplay and how to get into it, but sitting through it, despite having cosplayed heaps of times now, I actually kind of felt discouraged? o_O  Which kind of made me wonder what it would be like for someone who was just curious or maybe only just starting. Oh well, I was only really there because I was determined to go to at least one panel and hey, there was definitely some good bits of advice strewn throughout!

The Big Top was awesome, though!  They had section for Magic: The Gathering, along with a whole set of tables of tabletop gaming and an area where you could borrow board games!  Myself and two friends tried out 'We Didn't Playtest This At All: Legacies', a card game that can only be described as chaos.  My favourite round was the one where everyone had to talk really slowly, and also the one with the dinosaur. Things got a bit tricky when the words 'card' and 'game' were outlawed. It would be heaps of fun with more people - with only three of us, the game was usually over by the second turn.  :P I want this game.


In addition to an area to borrow console games or try out some retro games (on actual CRTs, lol) there was also a giant area just filled with beanbags for people to chill on and play games (or collect Streetpasses *cough*). They had a TV set up near the front playing Adventure Time.  I killed most of my Saturday afternoon here.


Also giant Jenga, because why the hell not.

The cafe was nearby too, and I have to say that it was the first con ever where the food choices were both varied and not completely horrible! The prices were much more convenience store than airport for a change too.

The real eye-popper was the Expo Hall though.


There were so many games.


Also World of Tanks brought along an actual goddamn tank.


Sonic at the Nintendo booth.  I laughed.

They were holding the Pokemon National Championships there! Which despite having not played Pokemon for a long time, was surprisingly gripping to watch, even though I only caught a bit of the earlier rounds.  Also just standing near the booth playing your DS would net you free stuff. Nintendo knows how to make people love them.

The most hilarious thing, though, was the XBox One's stand.

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An empty glass case.

They showed off the console in question for a whole precious hour each day.  The rest of the convention, the empty glass case stood there for everyone to mock. I don't normally like to rag on employees who might very well know better and be at the mercy of forces beyond their control, but damn, I think Microsoft just needs to go get a whole brand new PR and marketing team already.  A part of me suspected that Sony hired that stand and put it up as some form of incredibly subtle sabotage.


League of Legends stand was huge and constantly crowded. I kind of want to get into League of Legends but am also kind of terrified of it.

I didn't get to play even a fraction of the games on the floor but all of the ones I did manage to play were all pretty good!  Some of my favourites...


Halfbrick (of Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride) fame's new game, Colossatron. I was skeptical but it's pretty slick, I enjoyed it. About as shallow as their other games but still really well executed, plus they had an awesome stand and who doesn't like technological space dragons destroying cities.

Assault Android Cactus.

This was probably my absolute favourite of the show, so much that I went back to play it twice and it was only the overwhelming guilt of others waiting their turn that led to me relinquishing the controller.  I normally prefer my games with more story and kind of detest bullet-hell games but just loved this one. It feels like it occupies a space somewhere between Geometry Wars and Touhou.

It looks insanely complicated but it's actually pretty forgiving and the controls are quite simple. It's fun in single-player but when you start adding more players the chaos unfolds and it's just crazy awesome.

Go Greenlight this on Steam if you have Steam, for me.  Please.

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Freedom Fall. Not a great picture of their stand, admittedly.  People in the way. Which is good, because that meant people were playing it.

It's like someone took the platforming of Super Meat Boy and Cave Story, mashed them together, sprinkled on an essence of Portal for plot, then baked them with an anime aesthetic to create something new and terribly compelling. It actually came out a couple of days ago apparently and I will be buying this for sure.  You can find out more here: http://www.freedomfall.com/#main

You should also greenlight these guys on Steam. Just saying.

Muse.  No pics for this one.  Best described as a musical sandbox game, I guess. The closest thing out there to it currently would be Rez or Child of Eden. It was still pre-alpha but looked and sounded pretty cool!

There were a few others game demos I got to play (one really cool one with a pair of a spinning particles you had to spin past blocks like a more complicated version of Super Hexagon, and MacGuffin's curse, an adventure-style comedy about a werewolf) but these were the standouts for me. The whole indie section was just a fabulous though.  A few people even had Occulus Rift demos running!  The lines were kind of ridiculous though and I've tried the Occulus Rift before so left those be.

The whole convention was just awesome fun, too.  I got to catch up with a lot of people!  Outside of the con too - some Melbourne friends, which was awesome, as it had been nearly a year since I last wandered by and might be a long while before I can swing it again and it is always a good time.  The whole trip was just brilliant, despite having been organised two days beforehand.

PAX is fabulous and I highly recommend.  I dearly hope to be able to go again next year.


Aug. 6th, 2013 02:05 am (UTC)
Every time I read this sort of entry from you I'm like, Damn, I need to try cosplay in Australia. It looks like so much fun (even if it's not really a cosplay-con ^^')
Aug. 6th, 2013 08:55 am (UTC)
You should! Flights to Australia from Japan are super cheap and it's always awesome fun. (But surely cosplay is fun everywhere?! Well, from what you've said maybe the rules are a little strict in Japan.)
Aug. 7th, 2013 12:17 am (UTC)
I know! I'm actually considering flying down for New Year's if I don't have to work. Don't know if it's a good idea to cosplay there during the Summer though... =P
Aug. 7th, 2013 01:11 am (UTC)
Heh, it depends on the cosplay! It's great for all the stuff you'd otherwise freeze in. Depends what part of the country you're in too. Although New Year's is a bit of a dead zone for cons... The last one is in mid-November, and that's it until late February. Still, do come visit!
Aug. 7th, 2013 01:25 am (UTC)
Argh, I figured it might be that way. Cosplay's somewhat dead everywhere around New Year's. Ah well, if not, I can always fly down at some other point ;)

(Ooooor you could fly up here sometime and I'd show you why Japanese cons are awesome and really sucky at the same time... =P )
Aug. 7th, 2013 01:30 am (UTC)
Haha, I might actually! I lost my job last week (another studio dissolved under my feet) and if I'm still unemployed in a couple of months I'm planning on some globe-trotting, and in that case will definitely be swinging by Japan. :)
Aug. 7th, 2013 01:40 am (UTC)
Oh. Damn, that's too bad =(

Still, it would be awesome to have you visit! You're totally welcome to my place, even if it's tiny and stuff, and we should take you to cons and fun fandomy places. You've been in Tokyo before, right? Hahah, Tokyo Game Show would be the place to go. Yes. OMGCAIUSOMUCHYES XDDDD I think umarekawareru will be around somewhere in the country as well, actually...
Aug. 7th, 2013 01:47 am (UTC)
I've been to Tokyo before, yes! Ahhhhh I would LOVE to go to Tokyo Game Show but if I do come around it would be more December/January. (The idea is to stay put until my lease runs out early November, and I want to stop by a couple of other places first!) Oh yeah, I have her on Facebook and she's mentioned she's heading over to Japan for a while too. Awesome~! Haha, almost makes me hope I don't find a job before then! :P
Aug. 7th, 2013 01:52 am (UTC)
Hahah, okay... yeah, that makes sense. If I end up not taking this job another year I might do something similar =D

Wait, why don't I have you on FB? T_T'
Aug. 7th, 2013 01:55 am (UTC)
You're on Facebook? 'Sin Sinnatious', add me! (I was quite late to the Facebook party, that is probably why. :))
Aug. 7th, 2013 01:58 am (UTC)
...yep. We have some mutual friends, even >D