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Lessons learned



  • GrimRupertGrimRupert Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I've had some previous con experiences, so some of the basics I already had down-pat (such as "avoid convention hall food, it sucks and is over-priced"). Still, there's a lot I learned here as well.

    1- Even if I take off sick days the week before, take Thursday, Friday and Monday of the PAX weekend off.

    2- Don't try to spontaneously organize dinners or meet-ups with friends, especially if no one is good at giving directions. The GamersWithJobs meet-up worked out so well because it was pre-planned (though without a smartphone I wouldn't have learned the change of location). So next year, organize a specific night for the RIT EGS crew to gather, meet-up and devour things.

    3- If you hold a reservation, double check the weeks leading up to it that it is still reserved. The GWJ meet-up had to change location because they didn't have the reservation listed.

    4- The water fountains taste like ass, but every room had a water cooler. Refill your water bottle in an open room when possible.

    5- Walking around without a backpack or any other sort of bag was freeing, but pockets weren't meant to hold bottles of water. Grab a reasonable messenger bag for water and...

    6- eeePC. Sometimes you just need to sit down and write shit out while it's fresh in your head, and you can't do that with a smartphone.

    7- A voice recorder, potentially hooked up to a hands-free mic for ease of use. I consider myself an amateur games critic, and having a voice recorder to speak my issues with the Hunted: The Demon's Forge demo would have been priceless when going back to try and rewrite all the issues the damn game had.

    8- On that note, I need to learn to just push buttons whenever I get to a new game station. When I tried to write about certain games I had suddenly realized that I wasn't certain if they had or lacked certain features or not. Playing games for fun is great, but I needed to play them in my HCI/Usability mindset as well.

    9- Figure out generic ice-breakers for lines, crowds, etc. "You get to play anything at the Expo Hall?" "Were you at the Females on Female Characters panel?" So on. People want to discuss the convention.

    10- Do some research into PAX Parties ahead of time. I wasted so much time following some friends to the SFX 360 Gamers Gone Wild party, which was overly crowded upon arrival (didn't even THINK about getting in line, just turned and walked away), looked like the sort of place I'd hate anyway, and word on the street is the party sucked unless you were a VIP. A friggin' VIP for a convention that's about uniting everyone under the love of games. Screw that.

    11- Research nearby food places, prices and times on the Internet. Food after 11pm is unlikely and places are largely closed Sunday morning. South Street Station has a Cosi's that makes a kick ass breakfast croissant for a decent price (for Cosi anyway). On Saturday my friends and I went to a place across the street from the Intercontinental and next to the Fire House. SWEET breakfast, GREAT prices.

    Packing snacks isn't a concern for me. I'm fat and thus hunger is no problem. I can stand to starve for a while. But even so, I don't mind the prices of the bars as long as they are right. Seaport Hotel's bar Tamo's had over-priced burgers ($14 for burger and fries? Bullshit), but $14 for a medium-sized four-cheese pepperoni pizza...for that quality, yeah, I'll pay the inflation. That shit was GOOD.

    GrimRupert on
    I'm a website!
    PAX East 2014 Checklist:
    [X] - Pre-registered | [ ] - Train tickets | [ ] - Time Off
  • Kdash314Kdash314 Registered User
    edited March 2011
    Bring a camera. The crappy one in your phone won't cut it (unless you have a really good phone...)

    Bring food, and maybe water. Food was expensive and not that great. I didn't have a problem with water (there were plenty of fountains and water coolers around, so I didn't have to spend money on it), but it'd be nice to have a bottle to carry around.
    Also: Don't spend money on water! It's a ripoff, especially since there's free water in almost every room.

    Don't be afraid to talk to other people. They're all pretty much people just like you. And if they're not, you'll find someone who is.

    Wear light clothes. It gets pretty warm inside the convention center (especially from walking around all day), and having to carry around two jackets isn't fun (I had a jacket as well as a hoodie). Or at the very least, leave enough space in your bag to hold your jacket.

    Get into the main theater events as early as possible. Especially the concerts - getting into the front row is great.

    Be sure you know when theaters aren't going to be cleared. You might have to sit through another show just to get a good seat.

    Bring a DS, PSP, Netbook, or other small gaming device. Or some Magic cards, Zombie Dice, whatever. Just something small to keep you busy while waiting in line. Preferably something that'll let you interact with other people (in other words, no single-player games). I literally had nothing to do while waiting in line, so I was bored out of my mind. To be fair though, I guess I could've joined in on some other games or conversations.

    If your friends aren't into all the same stuff as you, feel free to venture off on your own (just don't get lost!) You're sure to meet new friends this way, too.

    Have plenty of cash. ATMs are limited (the one in the Center actually ran out of cash at one point, and I had to walk over to the Westin just to get some money)

    Don't be afraid to approach famous people. Most of them seem more than happy to sign stuff, or just to say hi. I was about 5 feet away from Jerry at one point (actually, twice), and didn't even do anything (although I got his autograph later on, so it's cool)

    Also, know what some of these people look like. I was right next to Disasterpeace (one of my favorite chiptune artists) at one point, and didn't even realize it. That was a bit disappointing, since I missed out on seeing him play, too.

    Names are nice, too. At the beginning of the convention, I wasn't sure which guy was Mike and which guy was Jerry. I know them now, of course, but it would've been a bit embarrassing had I mixed them up.

    Don't bother doing a lot of the Expo Hall contests and stuff. You probably won't win. I did that computer scavenger hunt (where you needed to go around and get a card punched at different stations), and didn't realize that you had to be there at the drawing in order to win. I wasn't there.

    Have backup plans, in case you can't get in to a particular show.

    Kdash314 on
  • rnicollrnicoll Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Kdash314 wrote: »
    Bring a camera. The crappy one in your phone won't cut it (unless you have a really good phone...)

    Also, if photos are important to you (e.g. those of us who wander the halls trying to ambush cosplayers), bring a good camera. I brought a cheap compact for Prime 2010, and regretted not having better photos. East 2011 was slightly embarrassing in that the camera was so new I hadn't quite figured out everything (and left the manual on the wrong continent), but Prime 2011 I think I may finally have mastered things!

    rnicoll on
  • GrimRupertGrimRupert Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    That reminds me. If anyone else is from the NJish area and has TDBank, there is a TDBank ATM by South Station. Just go underground toward the subway station and there's a TDBank ATM by each stairway.

    At least, those are the locations I discovered. There may be more convenient ones, and it could be that you don't care that much about a $2 charge. But if you do...

    GrimRupert on
    I'm a website!
    PAX East 2014 Checklist:
    [X] - Pre-registered | [ ] - Train tickets | [ ] - Time Off
  • shadowshipshadowship Registered User
    edited March 2011
    I should bring water or something from outside of the center to keep me hydrated....

    Does sharing hotel room with people count?

    shadowship on
  • lillblillb Registered User
    edited March 2011
    The lesson I learned:
    If you want to do something just do it and don't worry about whether your friends want to or not.
    I missed out on a lot of things that I planned on seeing because my friends either didn't want to wait in line or wanted to check something else out. I should have just done what I wanted and met up with them later but the few times we separated it seemed so difficult to find each other again, given that text messages were slow and phone calls sometimes didn't go through.
    Don't get too drunk or stay up ridiculously late on Friday and Saturday night.
    We all drank quite a bit and stayed up pretty late both nights so on Saturday and Sunday we got to the BCEC really late, missing a few panels we were interested in and cutting our time there much shorter than I would have liked.

    Also related:
    Don't have so many people staying at one house. 4 of us stayed at a friends house in the city and in the morning it took really long for us all to shower and get ready to leave, making us get to the BCEC even later.

    So next year I may just go on my own, travelling with a group cut down on expenses but I felt like I missed out on some things that I planned on doing and I don't want to miss out on stuff again.

    Also talk to more people in the industry. I went to the Irrational Games party and two of my friends talked to one of the programmers and got some really good advice and even scored his business card. My other friend and I were sitting at the table talking and didn't join in the conversation, which I now regret since I'd like to get into the industry when I finish my degree at the end of the year.

    lillb on
  • gigabraingigabrain Some guy...yknow New HampshireRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Had a camelback backpack with a HUGE water need to purchase water.
    Said backpack held all swag/games I picked up
    Brought chargers/battery packs for all devices
    Paid attention to twitter

    Have a contact card (maybe get in on Trading card next year)
    Get a Flip
    Wear comfier shoes (sneaker boots arent good enough, even if ive worn them constantly all year)
    Dont sweat running late...theres always something else to do.

    gigabrain on

    3DS Friend Code: 3926-5491-9247
  • ElbasunuElbasunu Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    GrimRupert wrote: »
    That reminds me. If anyone else is from the NJish area and has TDBank, there is a TDBank ATM by South Station. Just go underground toward the subway station and there's a TDBank ATM by each stairway.

    At least, those are the locations I discovered. There may be more convenient ones, and it could be that you don't care that much about a $2 charge. But if you do...

    Yeah, I can imagine that being a rough weekend to not know that TD has switched to 2.00 atm charges for non-TD atms.

    Also, NJ represent?

    Elbasunu on
    Steam ID: Obos Vent: Obos
  • GrimRupertGrimRupert Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I knew it was going to happen, but most ATMs charge anyway. WaWa is pretty much the one magical place where it doesn't.

    Still, I was taking $100 out to pay my friends back for the hotel, so an extra $2 didn't mean much. It was just frustrating to find on my way back two TD Bank ATMs right where we had walked by and I never noticed.

    GrimRupert on
    I'm a website!
    PAX East 2014 Checklist:
    [X] - Pre-registered | [ ] - Train tickets | [ ] - Time Off
  • MangoProjectsMangoProjects Registered User
    edited March 2011
    Did Right in 2011:
    1. No Planning
    “Feel the force, Luke.” I went with the flow.

    2. Table-Top Gaming
    To me, it was 100% Table-Top gaming. I enjoyed the people, the fan, the DM (volunteers) and the organizers tried real hard to keep us in line and in order. I love the atmosphere. I love socializing. I love playing Magic and D&D with people. I love it.

    Do Better in 2012:
    1. Remember Take Monday Off (if possible)

    2. Remember Ask For Contact Information (Must Remember)
    I forgot to get ANY contact information from a person I ran into twice at PAX. Even though we had pretty good conversations, I forgot to ask for an email or even a twitter handler. I got nothing. I got nothing. It is one week after PAX and I am still thinking about her.

    A word of advice to everyone, if you ever meet anyone you shown a least bit interest in, please remember to get his/her contact information, get something. Even later on, if you don’t show interest in, but at least you have the contact information. If not, you will regret it. I am.

    If I see her again next year, I will ask her. In the sea of people, what are my chances? Guys, be honest, what are my chances?

    MangoProjects on
    I create images with IMPACT.
    edited March 2011
    you cant die in the demos
    if you run into walls in MMOs and spam "im sorry im sorry im sorry" for 20 minutes your team mates wont care (individualism or whatever the maplestory game was)
    people get surprisingly mad when you call their cosplays "costumes". they also get mad when you dont get them right (seriously i thought like 90% of the girls there were in cooking mama costumes)
    APPARENTLY you cant have fun during the freeplay shit or else people will call you out
    food is expensive as fuck, go walk like half a mile to the bus depot and pick up some good food (sorry boston expo hall)
    thats all i have

  • kropotkinkropotkin Forum Badge Creator London UKRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    OK, here's my lessons learned from PAX East 2011 (my 5th PAX)

    1) Stay in the Westin as it does afford you the ability to retreat to the comfort of your room as well as treat it as a secure storage area.

    2) Dress as if it's the spring. No need to wear layers of warm clothing if you're going to be in the BCEC for most of the time. Only wrap up warm when you go outside.

    3) Food queues appeared to be long but were moving very quickly. It was expensive though, something all expo's suffer from thanks to the vendors having a captured audience.

    4) Budget for $US100 a day you are there. It's way more then you really will spend, but it affords you some comfort and allows you to buy some cheap tabletop games you wouldn't find anywhere else.

    5) Wash your hands regularly. I'm not talking about sanitisers either, nothing can replace soap and water. When ever you are about to eat, wash your hands. If you've handled something someone else has like a controller or some merch, wash your hands!

    6) You may be with friends, but don't think you have some invisible umbilical chord that links you all together. If one of you wants to queue of for 2 hours to play SWtoR, let them! They may have come here for the express purpose of playing that game!

    7) Play a tabletop game, even if you haven't in a while. In fact; especially if you haven't in a while. The dividing wall between tabletop and expo hall was more than just a physical division in my view. Just so you know, the tabletop area was packed for a vast majority of the time at PAX East 2011, despite its vast size.

    8) Always eat 3 meals. Never skip any of them, especially Breakfast and Lunch. Taking some time to refuel is a good thing and allows you to take stock of what you've seen and what you're about to go see. Also feel free to chat to others who are also taking some time out. Be watchful for their demeanor though! I sat down at a table and there was a someone who was wearing a Dungeon Master shirt that had a face like thunder on. She really wasn't in a mood for idle chit chat!

    9) Drink! Walking around the expo hall can be dehydrating and not replenishing liquids will only give you headaches or worse still, dizzy spells.

    10) Take Thursday and Monday off to arrive in good time and recover from the weekend itself.

    kropotkin on
  • TdarTURboTdarTURbo Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Pack at least 6 water bottles in your backpack. It's a life saver.

    Eat as much food possible outside of BCEC. The food is way overpriced.

    Print the 4 levels BCEC pdf map layout. This prevented me from wandering to the restroom.

    If you want stuff signed, bring 2 sharpies. You're guaranteed to lose one. Also those people probably don't have sharpies on hand.

    TdarTURbo on
  • rnicollrnicoll Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    kropotkin wrote: »
    2) Dress as if it's the spring. No need to wear layers of warm clothing if you're going to be in the BCEC for most of the time. Only wrap up warm when you go outside.

    Do, however, ensure you have suitable clothing for going outside. The Wednesday/Thursday before were fairly cold (around freezing), and the week before was well below freezing. Just because this year was warm, doesn't mean next will be.

    rnicoll on
  • DruxkDruxk Registered User
    edited March 2011
    The most important thing I learned is that you are going to miss some panels, games, etc. no matter what. After the first day I accepted this and stopped putting myself into rushed situations. Next year I will simply take in a spectacular three days that passes by so awfully quick.

    Druxk on
  • feitocomfrutafeitocomfruta Denver, Colorado, USARegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    One thing that I am looking forward to next year is the ability to know that I can relax a bit more with things. I did enjoy the 'go with the flow' mentality, but I definitely figured out that I just wanted to check out and do everything I could, and it seemed like there was not enough time. So next year, I'll try to hit up other things that I didn't try this year.

    Also, one key lesson I learned: just because it's there doesn't mean you have to do it. I enjoy console and PC gaming, but just because there is freeplay of PC and console games doesn't mean I HAVE to do it. Go for the experiences that you CAN'T get elsewhere, like ACAM's room, or classic console.

    Druxk, I agree 1000%. However, looking back, there are a few panels that I wish I DID go to that I didn't go to. When I Grow Up sounded pretty cool (and I admire his story), and the Females on Female Characters, a lot of my friends and my roommates went to and had a fantastic time at. But in the long run, I found that I had more fun just being in the moment.

    RE: weather, this is the northeast, it can be bipolar (my area had a beautiful warm sunny day Sunday, followed by 4 INCHES OF SNOW ON MONDAY, so I would know). I discovered that the hoodie that I got from my job, while shockingly thin, kept me REALLY well protected against the wind. It did make things interesting for my cosplay, but I think next year, I'll either be Professor Layton again and make a better, sturdier hat, or do something that is easier to make and wear in any situation.

    feitocomfruta on
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Things I did right
    Went to the meta-game panel and develop a plan to do the things I wanted.
    Chatted with some people about odd things. I actually did more talking about government contracting than gaming.
    Went to both concerts. I figured that two concerts makes up the 55 dollar 3 day pass nicely.
    Kept hydrated without buying bottled water. Tap water was ok at the Convention center

    Things I did wrong
    I didn't check the various Penny arcade meet ups before hand I would have liked to do the poke crawl
    Ate convention food
    Shopped after I hit the bar. My only saving grace was that the ATMs near me were out of money.
    Didn't play enough board games. I could have budgeted my time tighter and got in some extra gaming.
    Didn't get contact information for people I talked too.

    zepherin on
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