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Is PAX getting too big?

135

Posts

  • strebaliciousstrebalicious Registered User regular
    edited September 2011
    It's only big when you try to consider trying to cram in seeing every AAAAAA game on the expo floor. I don't think I bother with a single line other than panels. I tend to walk around and look for the small devs and indie games. That way, I can actually get some time in with a game, and carry on a conversation with some of the people that designed the game. Or having little run-ins with interesting people. Or trading buttons and tracking down people to give them a coin. Or seeing panels about niche topics.

    I can count on IGN/Gamespot/reddit for information on the AAA games.

    But I'll let you compare the crowdedness of PAX to the crowdedness of Tokyo Game Show by perusing some of the pictures I took last year.

    strebalicious on
    camo_sig2.png
  • trickycooljtrickycoolj Registered User regular
    tvethiopia wrote:
    They can't really expand because the number of badges legitimately available is basically the maximum amount they can sell without breaking fire code and getting PAX shut down.

    this is what i mean about looking instead at how to best accommodate the volume of people. maybe it can just be chocked up to the fake badges, but if not, and if pax prime continues to grow, maybe a change of venue could be considered, or some other creative way to allow for the increasing popularity. i realize they can't necessarily accommodate every single person who might want to go and there has to be a cutoff somewhere, but if pushing max capacity continues to be a problem, it might be worth looking at relocation. consider pax east: the hynes convention center was way too packed, but pa didn't just cut back passes the next year, they moved to a larger space and things were more comfortable and fit a larger crowd in 2011.

    Short of renting out the entire University of Washington campus, I'm fairly certain that the WSCC has the highest capacity in the Seattle area that provides small breakout rooms (the small theaters, freeplays), expo space, and performance space within proximity of lodging for a good portion of 65k attendees. There's the expo center at Qwest CenturyLink Field but that doesn't provide small rooms/theaters. I'd love to see PAX take over a university campus somewhere though, it's summer break. Labor Day weekend falls between Summer B Term and Fall at UW. I could imagine the epicness of final Omegathon at Husky Stadium AND you have budget conference housing in the dorms!

  • tvethiopiatvethiopia Registered User regular
    tvethiopia wrote:
    They can't really expand because the number of badges legitimately available is basically the maximum amount they can sell without breaking fire code and getting PAX shut down.

    this is what i mean about looking instead at how to best accommodate the volume of people. maybe it can just be chocked up to the fake badges, but if not, and if pax prime continues to grow, maybe a change of venue could be considered, or some other creative way to allow for the increasing popularity. i realize they can't necessarily accommodate every single person who might want to go and there has to be a cutoff somewhere, but if pushing max capacity continues to be a problem, it might be worth looking at relocation. consider pax east: the hynes convention center was way too packed, but pa didn't just cut back passes the next year, they moved to a larger space and things were more comfortable and fit a larger crowd in 2011.

    Short of renting out the entire University of Washington campus, I'm fairly certain that the WSCC has the highest capacity in the Seattle area that provides small breakout rooms (the small theaters, freeplays), expo space, and performance space within proximity of lodging for a good portion of 65k attendees. There's the expo center at Qwest CenturyLink Field but that doesn't provide small rooms/theaters. I'd love to see PAX take over a university campus somewhere though, it's summer break. Labor Day weekend falls between Summer B Term and Fall at UW. I could imagine the epicness of final Omegathon at Husky Stadium AND you have budget conference housing in the dorms!

    well, that's assuming they feel married to the idea of pax in washington. someplace like san francisco could accommodate a larger con, and has some developer presence. obviously anyone who lives near seattle would hate that idea, but i'm just saying, there are options that could be explored if this becomes a persistent problem. as it stands, legit pax prime 3-day badges sold out in less than a month, didn't they? if you cut back the number available they'll just sell out faster which, as was already pointed out, would only increase the scalper/forger problem.

    <3 Daintier. Smarter. Better dressed. <3
  • FierydemiseFierydemise Registered User regular
    Then you've got things like Firefall. They used up so much space and had huge empty areas that could've been filled with stuff. Same for End of Nations/Rift. I don't know if it's just marketing/PR people designing this stuff without thinking about the unused space or what, but someone needs to come up with a better way to use the space.
    I don't get the problem with the Firefall booth, in my mind its exactly how I'd love to see a booth set up. One of the Firefall guys said they had 42 computers at PAX, 40 for public use and the other 2 for media so media didn't take up playtime from other players (a complaint I've seen leveled at a number of other companies) and the demo was 10-15 minutes max. Basically that meant you could walk up and be playing within a half hour, the booth was well designed to just cycle through playing it. Additionally by putting a monitor above every computer you could watch the action while waiting in line which is better then nothing. The short lines and seperating them out per computer kept the lines confined to their area which is better then a ton of other companies. Overall if every company did like Red5 when setting up their booth you'd probably see a lot less complaints about expo hall crowding.

  • GameRabbitGameRabbit Registered User
    I'm not sure if the issue is that PAX is too big, but rather that they're going to need to build more efficiencies into the system:

    1) Pre-register for panels online; scan badges to enter the panel. The process of queuing up 1-3 hours in advance of a panel or concert probably is not sustainable if you want people to experience the freeplay/gaming and expo hall. Taking a page from professional conventions like Adobe (and systems like Disneyland?) and requiring pre-registration for panels, plus throwing an RFID or barcode on the badge would help alleviate wait times, give people more time for other activities, and mitigate counterfeiting. I really hope that this option in particular becomes a reality for future PAXes, and that they leverage their corporate vendors who have experience running trade-shows and conventions of similar scale, because not waiting in line for these things would be the awesome.

    2) Longer Expo hall hours

    3) Shorter demo times

    That said, PAX is a top-notch fan convention. I've been going for five years now and enjoyed it each year. That said, and I am guessing others have experienced the same, I do notice that I am experiencing less and less of what the con has to offer (and not just because of the widely expanded content) because so much time is spent in line. But I'm very optimistic for its future, in part because of this year's amazing attendance.

  • BanthaBantha Registered User regular
    GameRabbit wrote:
    1) Pre-register for panels online; scan badges to enter the panel. The process of queuing up 1-3 hours in advance of a panel or concert probably is not sustainable if you want people to experience the freeplay/gaming and expo hall. Taking a page from professional conventions like Adobe (and systems like Disneyland?) and requiring pre-registration for panels, plus throwing an RFID or barcode on the badge would help alleviate wait times, give people more time for other activities, and mitigate counterfeiting. I really hope that this option in particular becomes a reality for future PAXes, and that they leverage their corporate vendors who have experience running trade-shows and conventions of similar scale, because not waiting in line for these things would be the awesome.

    There's actually a problem with preregistering, especially at an event like PAX. I, for one, intend on going to panels that I never end up making it to. Why? Too much other awesome stuff going on. And then that's just not fair to other people who want to get in, if I register for the panels I WANT to attend and then end up missing a bunch of them. Of course, there could be stand-by lines... but then you're right back to lines and nothing's changed. One of the joys of PAX is the fact that you don't have to pre-commit to anything.


  • SrenaebSrenaeb Registered User regular
    GameRabbit wrote:
    That said, PAX is a top-notch fan convention.

    OH for sure! I'm sure many of us are only commenting on threads like these because we absolutely LOVE PAX and will come back years and years and years to come.

    We're not looking at why this good thing failed, we're trying to find ways to keep it the way it is. I would even go as far as to disagree with people who hold "worst. PAX. ever." opinions: it is the attendee himself who makes a hell of heaven, and a heaven of hell. PAX is, like the Christian Church, first and foremost, the body of its attendees and their communion with each other. I'm sure most of us would still go even if no more big game booths and swag were to appear again. Those are nice things, and we want/love nice shiny things, but that's not the main thing there. What makes PAX more than a "trade show" is the handheld beanbag area, the impromptu tabletop games with strangers, the chatter in line, finding a new indie title, sitting down with friends for some console/PC/classic gaming, rock band time, the concerts, the cookie brigade, the enforcers, PAX10, omegathon, the moments of geekery....etc. The "best moments in PAX thread" rarely mentions "I got to play this AAA title. yay".

    @tvethiopia , yes, PRIME will always be in Seattle because that's where it all started, where PA lives.

  • pillarofdawnpillarofdawn Registered User
    The issue of unused space was brought up with either booths making huge display pieces(skyrim dragon) or open spaces in boths (firefall). Where these are cool and impressive what purpose do they serve? Yea you want to promote your game, I get that, Dragons draw attention at PAX. But wouldn't having more people play your game serve a better purpose, for both the fans and the exhibitors? Now it's a touchy subject telling exhibitors what they can and cant do with their booths, but it is something that should be looked at. Firefall and Xbox wasted a TON of space with its booth, space that could have been used by other devs or games etc. Its my hope that exhibitors will stop wasting the limited space of the convention center and start utilizing their space better. I applaud Sony EA Nintendo and Capcom for using their space wisely :)

    I'm Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite thread on the forums.
  • squeakyboysqueakyboy Registered User
    I'm not sure if anyone else has mentioned this, but there are several cons that run 4 days (Gencon, DragonCon, SDCC). Expanding to the 4th day could help reduce things. The Thursday option seems more practical to me than the Monday option. Ticket pricing could go something like this:

    Thursday:$15
    Friday:$20
    Saturday:$30
    Sunday:$20

    2 days ($5 off)
    3 days ($10 off)
    4 days ($15 off, $70)

  • HeyJoeHeyJoe Registered User regular
    I had a blast checking out some of the more obscure, less flashy titles. Jumped out of the Skyrim line for example to play LoTR:War in the North. The one solution that might help a little is longer expo hall hours. Have it open at 9 and close at 8 or 9 pm for example.

  • rnicollrnicoll Registered User regular
    HeyJoe wrote:
    I had a blast checking out some of the more obscure, less flashy titles. Jumped out of the Skyrim line for example to play LoTR:War in the North. The one solution that might help a little is longer expo hall hours. Have it open at 9 and close at 8 or 9 pm for example.

    The problem is I don't think the exhibitors want to deal with that. That would mean staff being on-site from 7-8am through to 10-11pm, depending on how long their setup/shutdown takes. Which pretty much means two shifts of staff, which doubles their staff requirements.

  • SrenaebSrenaeb Registered User regular
    rnicoll wrote:
    The problem is I don't think the exhibitors want to deal with that.
    of course not. But we should make it a rule that they HAVE to. Is it fair that they are making money off of advertising, AND using our dear Enforcers, who are VOLUNTEERS, to manage their crowd overflow and line-time estimates and fire code and making sure paths are clear? NO. Our Enforcers work a double shift every day at PAX because they love us - they need every break they can get. Exhibitors already pay a lot to be there: there is no reason they can't afford an extra shift of employees.

  • tvethiopiatvethiopia Registered User regular
    Srenaeb wrote:
    rnicoll wrote:
    The problem is I don't think the exhibitors want to deal with that.
    of course not. But we should make it a rule that they HAVE to. Is it fair that they are making money off of advertising, AND using our dear Enforcers, who are VOLUNTEERS, to manage their crowd overflow and line-time estimates and fire code and making sure paths are clear? NO. Our Enforcers work a double shift every day at PAX because they love us - they need every break they can get. Exhibitors already pay a lot to be there: there is no reason they can't afford an extra shift of employees.

    this kind of thing makes me really curious about the behind-the-scenes business parts of pax--like, to what extent does pax have to romance exhibitors to get them to show and to what extent do exhibitors have to romance pax to be allowed to show? both entities need each other, pax so they can have good content for attendees and exhibitors to push/hype their products. anyone have any insight into how that balance is struck?

    <3 Daintier. Smarter. Better dressed. <3
  • emimonsteremimonster Registered User regular
    squeakyboy wrote:
    I'm not sure if anyone else has mentioned this, but there are several cons that run 4 days (Gencon, DragonCon, SDCC). Expanding to the 4th day could help reduce things. The Thursday option seems more practical to me than the Monday option. Ticket pricing could go something like this:

    This has been raised at PA QA panels before. They're just too exhausted to do it. Not going to happen. Their answer the last time this was raised was (paraphrasing) "The solution we see is more PAXes, not more days of a PAX."

    As for the Annex:
    When I went over to Halo fest it was busy busy over there. So I don't see how that wasn't helping. They were only 1 floor, too. One floor was Magic (which I felt wasn't well marked out, so that place was virtually empty & not using the space well, even during the start of a scheduled tourney). More could have been put on that floor. Hell they had a whole room for Magic Online which I only found when searching for places to Cookie Brigade it up. The room was pretty much empty. No signs marked it as there. They needed something in the main expo hall to direct you there. The basement was DnD. I didn't make it down there, but they were pretty much hidden away so I bet a lot more people would have gone there with better signage in the main hall directing them over there.

  • rnicollrnicoll Registered User regular
    tvethiopia wrote:
    this kind of thing makes me really curious about the behind-the-scenes business parts of pax--like, to what extent does pax have to romance exhibitors to get them to show and to what extent do exhibitors have to romance pax to be allowed to show? both entities need each other, pax so they can have good content for attendees and exhibitors to push/hype their products. anyone have any insight into how that balance is struck?

    GW2's community manager tweets some stuff about PAX prep/work/wrapup on her personal Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/brinstar - I'm sure if you hunt around you could find others too...

  • mattropolismattropolis Registered User regular
    I've been coming to PAX since back in the days when it was over in Bellevue. So, I'll wax nostalgic and yelling at you kids to get off my lawn. :) All things are change; but it never hurts to stop and consider where the change is leading you and see if you can direct where that's going. I, for one, believe we could be on the cusp of something truly revolutionary. I'll start with the observations I think we've all be batting around in this tread.

    PAX has gotten really, really big. I applaud you guys - the growth from small con to massive scale has been *superbly* orchestrated. The potential for complete foo-bars in operations that have scaled this far this fast is something I've experienced first hand - and we should all recognize that PAX hasn't turned into an amateur-hour quagmire but an amazing achievement of efficiency.

    With the exit of E3, PAX clearly in the realm of the largest industry trade shows. The sheer massiveness of the show floor alone is enough to keep one busy for 3 days straight. But I was left feeling uneasy about this fact this year. It *is* great you can play games that aren't released yet and get really exclusive info. It's also great that it's big enough you can meet the actual developers. This tells you how important PAX is to game companies.
    But I'm reminded of what originally made PAX great wasn't all the show/flash. There sure wasn't a lot of that back in the day. Instead, it was like inviting a ton of friends over to have a big weekend lan party/DnD/gaming session. It is also the attendee generated Tri-wizard drinking tournament, the cupcake/cookie groups, the pin trading group, and meeting really crazy gamers on their own terms. All generated back in the day by gamers just wanting to have a fun weekend. I also remember a lot of really awkward and lonely kids having a real transformative experiences at the show in which they learned they COULD socialize with others, that there was a place for them, and all the other great spur-of-the-awesome stuff that *the gamers* brought to the show.
    I worry the size, flash, and sheer mass of the show is going to kill a big part of that feel and you'll be just going to a massive marketing campaign that's directed towards the cool kids - leaving many people feeling excluded. These awesome gamer-initiated 'side' activities are getting almost too big for anyone to organize and may soon be lost. It feels less and less like the days when someone would pipe up on the forums and say "Lets all meet at the flagpole at 1:22pm if you want to do X". It was my impression the card games (with the exception of the Magic area which seemed 2x last year's), tabletop games, and bean-bag-cum-swineflu-transmission-device areas were all being pushed to less and less meaningful sizes/relevance as the console/pc and gaming show-floor dominates the show. The online forums really help to keep things alive and fluid, and the cosplaying is notably better each year, but I caution that PAX may just turn into another E3. And we all saw what happened when the shear grandiose bulk of E3 reached critical mass (It imploded).

    I started to despair. What does one do?

    A tweak to the vision. A subtle turning of the helm.
    PAX has a truly unique opportunity - and I wonder if we see it. It started very much as the gamers running the show and doing what we think is fun. Now, I think we're starting to drink the marketing cool-aid more and more as it gets flashier and bigger and we run around chasing the schwag. I argue that we can do something no other industry has been able to do yet - let the consumers assert themselves and drive the show a bit more. And the industry is primed to do it. They just don't know it yet.

    How about a thoughtful and careful request to limit booth sizes/campaigns/schwag-clawing activities the vendors are allowed to do? What if we ask them to come with their teams and have discussion panels and post-mortems with their designers instead? We could ask for that and get it I'd bet.
    What about some infrastructure for our inventive brothern that come up with great activities during the con? Web-based sign-up boards that side-event organizers can utilize for their event that helps maintain attendance caps/lists, get volunteer signups, and one can browse for activities they might want to attend. Get corporate sponsors to offer prizes for best new gamer-inspired social events instead of schwag? These are relatively simple support and encouragement systems that helps these fun gamer-generated side activities keep center stage and potentially feeds a whole new direction to developers as to what they think and know gamers want. There are countless other ideas - you guys can email me - I'll share them. :)

    Since PAX is now almost *the* place where big gaming companies announce their wares, we can direct *their* marketing focuses a bit into the direction we would like instead of us absorbing their ideas of what should be fun. This is not to show off one's might or some petty power-struggle, but to truly help the industry grow by showing THEM what GAMERS really want and let their creative and awesome developers feed off that. Trust me, as a software developer in the industry, right now companies realize the rules are completely changing on all platforms and they are desperately seeking new directions/ideas/innovation. They DO want to know what their customers want, and the indie movement has shown that the best ideas often come from the ground-floor players. They're still just stuck with their old ways of marketing to figure it out - and big con displays are way out of the reach of most small companies and will strangle the very things that helped PAX and gaming get good. Even the big guys don't want them. They cost a fortune and were just about THE reason E3 imploded. We can help them do it in a way that keeps gamers and fun at the very core.

    By doing these things, we don't have to split up PAX because it's getting too big and quite likely lose the very thing that makes PAX great - the cross-pollination, energy, and the exposure to all different kinds of people and gamers. There's already cons for DnD, Warcraft, et al, and they do a great job. But PAX shouldn't become just another nitch con and lose the very things that made it great: being run by gamers, and being about all kinds of gamers cross-pollinating each other. Maybe we can start a trend that's really new...

    Many, many more thoughts...

  • trickycooljtrickycoolj Registered User regular
    Spoiler:

    Very well said, I think those were my feelings exactly as I wound down from the weekend. Even though I didn't attend until after the Bellevue days, it was sad to see members of the group I attend with be more concerned about swag, raffles, and "liking" the vendors on facebook rather than actually gaming with other people. I was excited someone (last years 1st place DM contest winner and an old dorm-mate) finally coaxed my group to go do an hour D&D delve on Saturday after dinner. One of the people in my group that had poopoo'd the idea of playing D&D many times ended up coming to watch since it was on the way back from dinner, actually enjoyed it (or saw possibility of shenaniganz since the DM at our table was more serious) and offered his dining room for a future D&D gathering when our DM friend can put together an awesome story. That to me is what PAX is about, trying something new and enjoying it! If things start to explode in to a massive marketing/advertisement effort I feel like those experiences might be lost.

  • tsrblketsrblke Registered User regular
    emimonster wrote:
    *Snippage*

    As for the Annex: *More Snippage*
    The basement was DnD. I didn't make it down there, but they were pretty much hidden away so I bet a lot more people would have gone there with better signage in the main hall directing them over there.

    The Annex has a basement? Didn't even know that honestly. Wish I would have, I thought the WotC presence over there was all Magic (like, but not enough to chill long there.)

    @mattropolis:

    I would be curious to see what the total relative size of the expo hall compared to the rest of PAX. When I think about it, the Expo hall is huge, but so was Table Top gaming, Panel space, Computer space and Console freeplay and Bandland. Handheld gaming did kinda get shafted it looked like (from my noob perspective). Nintendo had several areas that looked like they were to try the 3DS, which possibly took away from other handheld space (someone whose been there before would have to tell me that, it just looked like that was the case.

  • beta_angelbeta_angel ColoradoRegistered User regular
    Dracil wrote:
    I've seen several suggestions to reduce the attendance numbers. To this, I have to ask back, would you be willing to be one of the people who couldn't attend next year because they reduced the cap?

    Just like right now, if I don't purchase my ticket in time, I'm SOL or I get the ticket another (LEGAL) way. So, in answer to your question, yes. If I can't get my ticket because it sold out, oh well. Shit happens.

    My suggestion of lowering the cap makes absolutely no difference in *how* your passes are acquired. You either get in while the gettin' is good or you're stuck looking for another route. Bottom line.
    It just strikes me as wrong to ask/force other people to not attend just so one can have a personally better experience. Obviously people are willing to attend even with the current amount of crowding, so it seems like the suggestion is artificially limiting the supply for no good reason (kinda like all those closed booths with long lines)

    Actually, there is a perfectly viable reason. Artificially limiting the amount of attendees clearly reduces the amount of space being taken up by the tremendous amount of humanity found at the convention center. I'm not saying it should be dropped to 40k, however, there is a happy medium that could be reached. There is no "ask" here and there is no more "force" than there currently is. Hell, how many people couldn't attend because somebody bought a whole host of extra passes to sell for more money? What about the people who bought passes but just blatantly didn't even show up due to one reason or another? In the long run, all this does is make more room for the *STILL* tremendous amount of people who will be in attendance.

    Of course there are people willing to attend. Hell, *I* am still attending knowing exactly what I'm getting into. That's not the point. The point is, the entire convention can be made more comfortable by limiting the amount of people. Yes, some people won't get in (and again, if I'm one of them, that sucks but I'm 100% certain I'll live) but some people don't get in *now*.

    Finally, in response to "...so one can have a personally better experience".

    Really? Limiting the amount of people is just about me being more comfortable. the 10's of thousands of others will still be miserable. :|

    In my opinion, this *would* make the con better for everybody in attendance. There's nothing selfish going on here. As I said...I still go. I'll probably continue to go. That doesn't mean I wouldn't appreciate more comfort.
    It makes more sense to meet the pent-up demand by increasing the supply, most probably by some sort of expansion. Increasing the imbalance between supply and demand would just make the black market problem (scalpers/forgeries) become even worse.

    Ok. Where would you suggest they expand to? It's up to PA to figure out a valid way to deal with scalpers and forgeries. If other cons can do it, I'm sure they can too (especially considering they already *are* working on something).

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  • MaoChanMaoChan Registered User regular
    Exhibitors should have either a timed demo or the "full demo experience". The whole line issue could be solved if it was more revolving door and not "let his dude who has never played an RPG customize his dude who he can't save anyways dick around for 10min before even playing the 20min demo". If the demo was timed it would just put you in, let you play for X time and then done. If you really wanted the whole pickle, you can then get in the "full demo" line and wait forever. That way people who just want a taste can get it without having to sit through some huge ass line. Obviously once everyone hears "they are giving out X with the full versus Y for the mini demo", that could even help more because some things like a plus Skyrim hat mean jack to me but getting 7 min of demo time is that took 15min to wait for is worth it to me versus 20 min that took 5 hours to get at.

    Forcing exhibitors to use their booth space for lines is also a good idea as the walk ways get too crowded and really unsafe for anyone who is short or a child.

  • emimonsteremimonster Registered User regular
    tsrblke wrote:
    The Annex has a basement? Didn't even know that honestly. Wish I would have, I thought the WotC presence over there was all Magic (like, but not enough to chill long there.)

    So I didn't know either, and would have had no idea that there was a DnD presence at ALL, except my brother told me. He was there playing magic all day and said he saw DnD down there hidden away. *I* never found it. : (

  • ptriz21_teamkillptriz21_teamkill Registered User regular
    @mattropolis
    While I have never experienced the elder days, my best time at PAX was last year when we hung out after the expo hall was closed and learned some new games and dinked around with random people. We tried this year but the sumos were limited and anyone there had their face in their DS. Since we were just playing games by ourselves, we decided to just go to the hotel room because the carpet in the convention center is rough to lounge on after a while. Really disappointing.

    3DS: 3325-2059-2105
  • Moe FwackyMoe Fwacky Moderator mod
    MaoChan wrote:
    Exhibitors should have either a timed demo or the "full demo experience". The whole line issue could be solved if it was more revolving door and not "let his dude who has never played an RPG customize his dude who he can't save anyways dick around for 10min before even playing the 20min demo". If the demo was timed it would just put you in, let you play for X time and then done. If you really wanted the whole pickle, you can then get in the "full demo" line and wait forever. That way people who just want a taste can get it without having to sit through some huge ass line. Obviously once everyone hears "they are giving out X with the full versus Y for the mini demo", that could even help more because some things like a plus Skyrim hat mean jack to me but getting 7 min of demo time is that took 15min to wait for is worth it to me versus 20 min that took 5 hours to get at.

    Forcing exhibitors to use their booth space for lines is also a good idea as the walk ways get too crowded and really unsafe for anyone who is short or a child.

    Of course this plan requires exhibitors to develop two demo builds for PAX, which isn't as easy as saying "let's have two demos at PAX."

  • emimonsteremimonster Registered User regular
    edited September 2011
    @mattropolis
    While I have never experienced the elder days, my best time at PAX was last year when we hung out after the expo hall was closed and learned some new games and dinked around with random people. We tried this year but the sumos were limited and anyone there had their face in their DS. Since we were just playing games by ourselves, we decided to just go to the hotel room because the carpet in the convention center is rough to lounge on after a while. Really disappointing.

    Lots of people playing games with random new friends in the tabletop gaming area surrounding the main escalators. There is a problem with tabletop space and chairs becoming too scarce in that prime time of 8pm-12. Next year I'd suggest hitting up all those small game rooms in the main atrium floors 2 and 3, and the cafe tables under the escalators.

    emimonster on
  • tsrblketsrblke Registered User regular
    "Moe wrote:
    Of course this plan requires exhibitors to develop two demo builds for PAX, which isn't as easy as saying "let's have two demos at PAX."

    I feel a return to the old nintendo Demo machines coming back, where they'd just shut off every X minutes. Boy that was frustrating when 2 minutes in they shut off and said "It's me Mario! Give someone else a turn!" Really? I just sat down!

  • MaoChanMaoChan Registered User regular
    Moe Fwacky wrote:
    Of course this plan requires exhibitors to develop two demo builds for PAX, which isn't as easy as saying "let's have two demos at PAX."

    While true for most devs such as smaller indie titles, they are not the ones that cause 5 hour lines. A studio such as Bethesda or Valve not only could put two out but really just having the same demo but timed I doubt would be that hard for them. Especially when it means more people see their product instead of "Old Republic line is so long the Enforcer is ageing as I wrap around the floor.... no thanks" and skip it.

  • matguymatguy Registered User regular
    Excuse my ignorance about the queue room, but after the line is gone, is that room just empty for the rest of the day?...

    If so, could there be a stash of tables and chairs brought out to add to the table-top space? Or bean-bag chairs... Maybe a Rock Band stage...

  • The GeekThe Geek Oh-Two Crew Registered User, ClubPA regular
    Man, you don't even know cramped unless you were at the last Meydenbauer PAX.

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  • trickycooljtrickycoolj Registered User regular
    matguy wrote:
    Excuse my ignorance about the queue room, but after the line is gone, is that room just empty for the rest of the day?...

    If so, could there be a stash of tables and chairs brought out to add to the table-top space? Or bean-bag chairs... Maybe a Rock Band stage...

    It used to be that the queue room was next to the main theater when it was held in the other half of the room. Last year one of the bigger not-main theaters was in that half so it still served for queuing for events in that theater. Now that many of the larger theaters have been moved to the Sheraton perhaps it's time to reconsider the queue room space?

  • BigRedBigRed Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    matguy wrote:
    Excuse my ignorance about the queue room, but after the line is gone, is that room just empty for the rest of the day?...

    If so, could there be a stash of tables and chairs brought out to add to the table-top space? Or bean-bag chairs... Maybe a Rock Band stage...

    It used to be that the queue room was next to the main theater when it was held in the other half of the room. Last year one of the bigger not-main theaters was in that half so it still served for queuing for events in that theater. Now that many of the larger theaters have been moved to the Sheraton perhaps it's time to reconsider the queue room space?

    Queue room is more or less required by the convention center I believe. Since there's a metric fuckton of people showing up for PAX.

    The deploying of tables/RB stage idea is interesting though....

    <MoeFwacky> besides, BigRed-Worky is right
  • Moe FwackyMoe Fwacky Moderator mod
    Rock Band/Dance Central stage could work in the Queue room. Plus the dividers for lines are already there, so people could just line up to play or plop down to watch. Hmmm.

  • TangoTango Registered User
    It was my impression the card games (with the exception of the Magic area which seemed 2x last year's), tabletop games, and bean-bag-cum-swineflu-transmission-device areas were all being pushed to less and less meaningful sizes/relevance as the console/pc and gaming show-floor dominates the show.
    You might not realize how big Tabletop was - pretty much the entire main areas of the Second and Third Floor? All those rooms were Tabletop. Plus Tabletop Tournament on the 1st floor, and the WOTC area in the Annex. After Expo, Tabletop was the second-largest thing in the WSCC this year, in terms of space assignment, expected Attendee throughput and number of Enforcers assigned to work.

  • BeomooseBeomoose Registered User
    I don't think its getting too big, I do think the size could be handled a bit better. The northern half of the Expo felt pretty miserable thanks to Firefall and the impenetrable Borderlands 2 Box, but the southern half felt better despite having several huge displays of its own.

  • nanaki254nanaki254 Registered User
    MaoChan wrote:
    Exhibitors should have either a timed demo or the "full demo experience". The whole line issue could be solved if it was more revolving door and not "let his dude who has never played an RPG customize his dude who he can't save anyways dick around for 10min before even playing the 20min demo". If the demo was timed it would just put you in, let you play for X time and then done. If you really wanted the whole pickle, you can then get in the "full demo" line and wait forever. That way people who just want a taste can get it without having to sit through some huge ass line. Obviously once everyone hears "they are giving out X with the full versus Y for the mini demo", that could even help more because some things like a plus Skyrim hat mean jack to me but getting 7 min of demo time is that took 15min to wait for is worth it to me versus 20 min that took 5 hours to get at.

    Last year, the only game I demoed, Guild Wars 2, was timed. The thing about that was, you had an hour to do what you want to do (the time limit was literally an hour). I only played about 5-10 minutes and let people behind me play that awesome game (when you exit out into the menu, it goes back to the title screen where the timer resets when you actually play).

    A lot of the demos I saw this year were timed in a sense. It is just that a lot of people want to experience it, and when you get a 15-20 minute demo, well the time adds up in the line.

    In my opinion, if the game is a hugely popular game (like Skyrim or Mass Effect 3), there will be lines that will be 3-4 hours long, no matter if there is a timed or un-timed demo. Lines in conventions are a given.

    I just steer clear of those lines - I will buy those games when they come out anyways, and my time is better spent going to panels and seeing other booths.


    The Firefall booth was actually pretty well handeled to me at least. I walked through there easily (though the smoke was irritating). The lines I saw were short, and uncongested. It was just a really big booth.

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  • adastraadastra Registered User regular
    Tango wrote:
    You might not realize how big Tabletop was - pretty much the entire main areas of the Second and Third Floor? All those rooms were Tabletop. Plus Tabletop Tournament on the 1st floor, and the WOTC area in the Annex. After Expo, Tabletop was the second-largest thing in the WSCC this year, in terms of space assignment, expected Attendee throughput and number of Enforcers assigned to work.

    It was really hard to gauge the size/scope of Tabletop without looking at a map, since it was so spread out. I think that the separate locations also made it less inviting and perhaps a little confusing for some. This is one place where I really think East 2011 reigned supreme - the giant single-room Tabletop space was amazing. Vendors, tournaments, HQ, and freeplay, all in one place? Hallelujah!

    The exhibits certainly feel like the biggest thing by a huge margin, thanks to having everything in one giant room filled with people continuously. I spent a lot of my time in Tabletop to avoid the chaos of the exhibits - it was nearly impossible to navigate some of the crowded lanes between the booths, especially with my cane. I was tripping over 2-3 lines, people stopped for giveaways, etc. I certainly like the ideas that people are discussing for having the lines as part of the booth space, as it makes the whole shebang more compliant with accessibility needs. If you're one of the people who I accidentally whacked with my cane in a crowded area, I sincerely apologize. :)

  • emarecksaykayemarecksaykay Registered User regular
    This last PAX was not crowded. PAX at Hynes was crowded.

    My first PAX was in 2007, when they were new to the WSCC. It was spacious as all get-out. It has gotten more crowded since then, obviously, but honestly this year wasn't bad. I had no problems navigating quickly through the crowds. Perhaps it's just good practice, since this was my sixth PAX, but really if you avoid certain areas/booths of the exhibition floor, there was tons of room. Were there lots of people? Of course. Room to get through? Sure. I think the people who encountered massive crowding on the exhibit floor were the ones trying to see the AAA titles. Having done that before, let me just tell you, it's really not worth it. Only get in line if it's going to determine if you buy it or not, when no online trailers and gameplay videos will help you. The demos are usually quite short, the swag is usually not that good, and basically they will just eat up your precious time.

    As for panel lines, I actually found them to be quite short this year compared to many others. I think this was partly scheduling, partly the spread-out convention causing some people to not bother switching buildings, and partly less interest due to there being so much else to do (this PAX had more stuff than ever!). For some of the major panels, like the PA Panel, ACR Panel, SWTOR Panel, people were showing up a half hour before it they started and still getting seats. Halo Fest panels had no lines at all, unless they took place off-site (like at Pegasus), but even then the waiting time was only unreasonable if you wanted to be the very first in a seat. I did not go to Acquisitions Incorporated, so I cannot speak to that, but for almost every major event, you could spend less than an hour in line and still get in. Compared to some other years, this is excellent.

    It's here that I want to give a special thank you to the Enforcers working the entertainment side of line management. You guys were awesome, particularly at the Main Theater. Having done six of these now, I can say that interactions with Enforcers are usually some of the best experiences, in general, at PAX. This year was certainly no exception.

    The only problem with managing the convention this year that I saw was on the first day, right after the floor opened, there were a lot of miscommunications with regards to people entering WSCC. Signage directed us one way, enforcers directed us another, and when we got to where were were going, we were not where we were supposed to be and nobody was telling us anything. Had I not been to PAX before, I would have been very confused, but luckily I was able to go and find my own way to pick up swag bags and lanyards and get into the convention while most people were horribly lost. Those who did make it to the queue room despite this found things were really quite odd, and a lot of first-timers didn't even understand what they were in line for. It was the first day and there were bound to be some kinks, but for next year perhaps the Enforcers can do a better job communicating to people just showing up just after 10 AM, and if signage (which really was correct) is incorrect, those signs can be turned around or blocked or just maybe somebody can stand there and tell people to ignore it. I don't know, that was just bizarrely unlike Prime's usual smooth efficiency.

    Signage outside on the street could be a lot better, if PAX continues to be at four separate venues. I don't know what local regulations say, but there was obviously some signage up so I imagine it's possible. The first day I had some trouble locating the Paramount. I don't think there was a single Main Theater sign outside WSCC and judging by the traffic flows not a lot of people knew where it was either. I really wish I had known where the D&D was earlier. I found it on the second day entirely by accident. Maps are fine, people can figure it out eventually with maps, though there were no program booklets in the swag bags this year (I ended up getting mine the next day... still don't really understand what happened there, though it was probably part of the first-morning chaos). But better than maps would be big clear signs all over the several blocks taken over by PAX now.

    Things were surely crowded this year, but that's just PAX for you. I can understand how first-timers can be intimidated, but lines are an opportunity, not something to be feared. Talk to your neighbors! Chances are, they've seen something cool they can tell you about, or have a favorite place to eat nearby, and suddenly you have something else new to do after whatever event you're in line for is finished. Perhaps they have a game you can play while you wait in line, or perhaps you've just found a group to do something else together afterwards with. If you do nothing but stand in lines all PAX and then just stand there not talking to anybody you'll be bored out of your mind, absolutely. But not taking advantage of the opportunities lines present to you is your own fault. Make new friends, find out what those new friends know, and play some games with your friends. Even if none of you have handhelds, or a card game, you can still have fun. Get creative. Organize a rock paper scissors contest among the nearest eight people. Play "I spy" or charades. Ask each other trivia questions. PAX is full of gamers, surely you can come up with some kind of game to play with the people you're in line with. Even if it's stupid and silly, it'll pass the time and make you new friends.

    If they do a third PAX, as long as it's in the US, I'll still probably attend. Making more PAXii won't lessen the crowds, folks, it'll just keep bringing in more interest, and people sworn to attend every PAX they are able to go to will keep on going to them all. If they do a EuroPAX, it won't lessen the crowds in the current two, either, as it will simply attract Europeans and there's plenty of gamers in North America willing to go fill up the spots currently taken by Europeans at Prime and East now. Bear in mind, this is not an argument against more PAX. I want more PAX, but not to make the PAXii I go to less crowded but so I can go to more PAXii. I remember in 2009 at one of the PA Panels, where Mike and Jerry asked the crowd who was going to attend the upcoming inaugural PAX East. They were shocked at how many people cheered, they really weren't expecting so much crossover. If they do another PAX to reduce the crowds, they'll get the same shock all over again.

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  • tvethiopiatvethiopia Registered User regular
    I remember in 2009 at one of the PA Panels, where Mike and Jerry asked the crowd who was going to attend the upcoming inaugural PAX East. They were shocked at how many people cheered, they really weren't expecting so much crossover. If they do another PAX to reduce the crowds, they'll get the same shock all over again.

    i'm sure this is true, but to a limited extent. three paxes [paxii] a year in totally different parts of the country [possibly even world] is going to be really difficult for most people to swing as far as cash/vacation time goes. you'll probably get more people who currently attend one pax doubling up, but the number of people attending all three would probably be small. not questioning anyone's pax devotion, it's just logistics.

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  • tsrblketsrblke Registered User regular
    BigRed wrote:
    matguy wrote:
    Excuse my ignorance about the queue room, but after the line is gone, is that room just empty for the rest of the day?...

    If so, could there be a stash of tables and chairs brought out to add to the table-top space? Or bean-bag chairs... Maybe a Rock Band stage...

    It used to be that the queue room was next to the main theater when it was held in the other half of the room. Last year one of the bigger not-main theaters was in that half so it still served for queuing for events in that theater. Now that many of the larger theaters have been moved to the Sheraton perhaps it's time to reconsider the queue room space?

    Queue room is more or less required by the convention center I believe. Since there's a metric fuckton of people showing up for PAX.

    The deploying of tables/RB stage idea is interesting though....

    As a first timer, something needs to be done about that Queue room, it did become a giant waste of space as soon as the expo hall opened.
    Waiting in lines for first panels I get (wanting to get a good seat) waiting in line to be let into the Expo hall, no so much, but that's just MHO. That being said, as a first timer, seeing the Queue room scared me at first (we ran through at about 8:30 to grab our swag bags before heading over to Halofest.) I thought the mere existance of a queue room meant it was going to be lines to get into the Expohall all day long. (Thankfully @cybit told me this was not true.) But I was lucky enough to have a PAX guide, can't speak for everyone else.

    If the Queue room is mandated by WSCC (or otherwise not optional) I really think it would be cool if it converted to something else after 10. I can understand that deploying anything could be a giant PITA (since it'd all have to be put back somewhere else in time for the next day.) But I'm sure someone could come up with something. (Although, it did serve a purpose as a nice meeting space when I needed to find someone. "Go to the Queue room, there's no possible way I'd miss you there!")

  • mrt144mrt144 King of the Numbernames Registered User regular
    edited September 2011
    tvethiopia wrote:
    They can't really expand because the number of badges legitimately available is basically the maximum amount they can sell without breaking fire code and getting PAX shut down.

    this is what i mean about looking instead at how to best accommodate the volume of people. maybe it can just be chocked up to the fake badges, but if not, and if pax prime continues to grow, maybe a change of venue could be considered, or some other creative way to allow for the increasing popularity. i realize they can't necessarily accommodate every single person who might want to go and there has to be a cutoff somewhere, but if pushing max capacity continues to be a problem, it might be worth looking at relocation. consider pax east: the hynes convention center was way too packed, but pa didn't just cut back passes the next year, they moved to a larger space and things were more comfortable and fit a larger crowd in 2011.

    Essentially that means moving out of Seattle. Or utilizing space that is absurdly far away from the main con such as Qwest event center. Doing a citywide is possible but not within the spirit of convention AFAIK

    mrt144 on
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