These are just my suggestions for how to get the most out of PAX. Feel free to contribute! Keep in mind that these are all just our personal opinions and that you have to decide for yourself what decisions would be best to make to have the most fun.
GET GOOD SEATS. Come at least two hours early. Otherwise you'll have a hard time getting a good view of the onstage performance. This probably won't be that much of an issue this year due to the venue change to the Benaroya (yaaaaay seating!), but still, you probably don't want to be stuck with crappy seats that are really far away from the stage and having to watch two blobs that may or may not be Paul & Storm.
Be sure to bring water bottles as well (and possibly snacks?). Last year I got really thirsty during Freezepop's performance and regretted not thinking of bringing water to the show.
Also, keep in kind that although the schedule says the concerts will run until 1AM, in actuality they will probably go on until PAX closes up completely (which is 2AM this year).
That being said, YOU NEED TO SEE PAUL AND STORM. I don't know about the others but they are absolutely phenomenal, I guarantee you will love them. They are better than JoCo. Their performance last year was one of the single best things about PAX09 and I guarantee that you will enjoy them if you take the time to see them. I mean sure you can buy their CDs but they're really one of those acts that are meant to be seen live, and how many chances are you going to get to see them?
TOTALLY MY PERSONAL OPINION HERE PLEASE DON'T THROW STONES AT ME
Don't even bother. Tournaments take up loads of time and let's face it, you're not going to win. On the contrary, you might get kicked out at round one, and then you will have wasted the time to register and prepare for the tournament.
If you do decide to join a team-based tourney, make sure your teammates know what they are doing
. Personal friends make ideal teammates, otherwise you might as well just group with a bunch of random dudes and hope for the best.
From what I've gathered from experience, it seems to me that Saturday morning is the best time to try to play games in the expo hall. People are sleeping in, therefore less lineups. Don't take my word on this as gospel, though!
Since 2008 the massive two-hour line for every game problem has pretty much been curbed although there are a few exceptions (coughcough Left 4 Dead 2 last year). When planning your schedule, be sure to take multiple hours at a time out of your day for the expo hall. Half an hour at a time just won't cut it, you won't see anything. My estimates for the heavy hitters this year are: Zelda Skyward Sword, Dead Space 2, Marvel vs Capcom 3, Fallout New Vegas, Rock Band 3 and Portal 2 (lines at Valve's booth are always massive).
And there's more than just games at the expo hall. It's a great place to buy games/souvenirs. Billy Galaxy and Pink Godzilla are definite highlights. There's also the matter of FREE STUFF! Consider taking some time to go swag hunting (some people last year spent the entire show doing this!)
Don't bother with console freeplay until after the expo hall is closed, because otherwise you are wasting time you could be using for playing unreleased games. Try to get a group of people to join in on the fun with you, or try joining other games. Reserve a bug chunk of time for console freeplay, because it's going to take you at least a half hour for you to get your game. (They will also make you leave something as collateral when you take out controllers and games. Try to be able to hand over something other than your cell phone, because what if someone tries to call you?)
It's probably a good idea to draw up a schedule of what you want to see and do at PAX beforehand so that you don't have to waste time sorting that out when you actually get to the convention. But keep in mind, YOU ARE GOING TO CHANGE IT
. There is no way you could possibly see and do everything at PAX. On the contrary , some panels are scheduled at exactly the same time as other panels!
Don't cram every space of your schedule with panels. You want to take some time out to eat or just chill, or maybe just casually peruse the convention. It sucks having to run from one end of the convention centre to the other every hour after a panel (I've been there).
Only take time for the heavy-hitters, the hotspot panels that every wants to see or those ones involving your favourite game industry celebrity. Those are the panels that you are going to remember five years from now. You don't want to wait to get into one of the smaller panels and then end up regretting you took the time to even get in. Go big or go home.