This year I attended PAX East with my good friend Justin for the first time in my life. I was greeted by a wonderful snowfall in the city of Boston. Despite the alarming temperatures, it was an easy process to get checked into the event for media and exhibitors. It seemed the staff was doing their best to process as many attendees as possible, but many were stuck in huge lines in the freezing temperatures. I have been in that position before at other conventions and it isn’t fun at all. The sad reality is there isn’t anything that could have been done to solve the weather issue. As the days went on I have to commend the staff for being able to process so many people so quickly to get them out of the cold!
When we entered the Boston Convention Hall we were greeted by thousands of attendees and staff making their way to the enormous show floor. We picked up our badges seamlessly, then made our way to the media room to drop off our coats to organize our day.
When we entered the media room, there was only a small group of people sitting around a table while we got settled into the room. At first I did not recognize the creator, but after we found a seat I heard a familiar voice. It was Markiplier with his friends and girlfriend chilling out before his next signing for the day. In the moment, I wanted to tell him what an inspiration he is as a creator. Explain how I appreciate the hard work he puts in to make a difference, while still being a professional in an industry known for its troubled stars. I wanted to ask him question about his passions, creative ideas, and direction in life. In the end, I decided to let him be. Not only did it seem like Mark was recharging for his next panel, I imagine he was jet lagged from his flight to the convention. I felt great respect for his work ethic and wanted to give him the peace of mind he deserved. I know a "hi" and a picture wouldn’t be much, but the man has indirectly helped me in some many way the least I could do is let him be before he had to preform for those who really needed it.
Next, we headed down to the show floor. The booths and waves of people stretched out around for what seemed like a mile or two. Hundreds of booths were being occupied by excited gamers. What Justin and I found amazing throughout the convention was how games had brought together every walk of life. Age, race, gender, occupation, and income level did not matter to anyone there. It was all about individuals expressing themselves. It was wonderful to see so many getting along despite the division we see in the media so often.
The first booth we had the pleasure of interviewing was the Double 11, which was showcasing Super CloudBuilt and Songbringer. These two games pulled me in from their art style when I first saw them. As soon as I received an email inquiring for hands on experiences with the game it became my most anticipated indie games of the whole convention! An extremely friendly man named Mark approached me as I entered the booth. I introduced myself and hit it off with him talking about the history of Double 11.
A small studio made up of 35 employees was helping other developers publish their games, while still producing games as they grow. The beauty of the studio is their passion for good games. It was clear from my conversation with Mark the absolute care they put into their selection process for supporting games. For over 7 years Double 11 developed games pushing themselves to achieve as much as possible. The studio became trusted after their work with Little Big Planet Vita. Once they began to gain resources the studio has been able to pursue their creative freedoms inside their studio.
As our conversation drew to an end, I set up my recording software to play Songbringer. A game developed by Wizardfu, a one-man studio. Nathanial worked on his dream game for the past three years to bring fantasy to life.
“Songbringer is a scifi action RPG with swords, secrets, dungeons, bosses and stuff. You play the role of protagonist and accidental hero, Roq Epimetheos. With a propensity for partying and making music, he cruises the galaxy with his skybot Jib aboard the ship Songbringer, searching for verdant planets absent the presence of galactic police. When Roq finds the nanosword hidden in a cave on Ekzerra, he unwittingly awakens an ancient evil. The sword is pretty fraggin' sweet though. It... hums.”
The game is witty and calls back to the nostalgia of our past with a modern twist. The key feature that separates Songbringer is the procedural system. You choose a 6-letter word to seed the world. This allows you play the game in countless new variations, but you still have the ability to reply the versions you enjoyed! By typing in the same 6-letter word you return to the world you once played!
While interviewing Nathanal he explained to me the subtle storyline that is being told with each varation of the game. He encourages players to play the many versions of his game to piece together the larger story. If that isn’t your cup of tea, no worries! Every end to a world has a proper ending.
Despite my terrible gameplay, Songbringer is a blast. I have to apologize for my performance as a gamer because it was quite bad while I was trying to interview Nathanal, but I got the formula down as the convention went on. It’s a game that he anticipates will have players excited for speed running. I hope to see Songbringer as well as many of the other Indie games I played at AGDQ next year. Songbringer comes out later this year for PC, Xbox One, and PS4!
After my interview with Wizardfu, I was greeted by a bearded, soft spoken man named Ander. He was from Coildworks, another small studio putting all they have into their games. After working on Cloudbringer, Coildworks took the community feedback to make a better game. In one year of development they were able to turn around their long term project of Cloudbuilt into Super Cloudbuilt. It serves as the closes thing to a sequel without becoming a sequel. The gameplay mechanics, graphics, puzzles, sound, and story where all upgraded with this new iteration.
I inquired about their choice for the art style because Super Cloudbuilt caught my eyes immediately when I first saw it. It became the game I HAD to see at PAX East 2017. Ander explained to me that the art style comes from a Valkyria Chronicles inspiration. Initially I figured the art style came from a borderlands inspiration, but it is as clear as day it comes from the delightful game that is Valkyria Chronicles. Super Cloudbuilt flowed, the game was easy to pick up and rewarded players for experimenting. Each of the courses inspire players to figured out the best way to complete the level while jamming out to the astounding soundtrack. Super Couldbuilt is another game built for speed runners to enjoy. The speed of the game is dictated by the players, which becomes an absolute delight to watch when more advanced players are able to glide through levels with seemingly no effort. Super Cloudbuilt releases this summer for PC, Xbox One, and PS4!
After our interviews , we enjoyed the convention center by touring other booths. We tried to take in all the sights and sounds because this was our first experience at a convention so large. The end of Day 1 was a delightful experience. We met some of the most detitcated developers in the industry who’s passion burned bright as they described their labor of love. Make sure to check back for updates for each Day of PAX East. I will posting full gameplays and interviews on the site as I can.
Thanks for reading and I will see you in the next one! Bye!