Tag Archives: Australia

PAX Australia 2015: PAXageddon

PAX Australia 2015 logoPAX Australia is in its third year this year and only proves to be bigger and better than previous years. Like always, I’m here to help you navigate through three days of video games, panels, cosplay and any extracurricular activities you might have planned.

For the uninformed, the Penny Arcade Expo (from the creators of the web-comic Penny Arcade) is a three day video game expo based on the popular PAX Prime, PAX East and PAX South events held each year in America. It brings developers from around Australia and across the globe and gives fans the opportunity to play new and upcoming games, and rub shoulders with those who make them.

It’s pretty boss.

Travel

The closest international airport is the Melbourne International Airport. To get to your hotel, you’re able to hire a taxi or rental car. However, there is a wonderful service called Skybus which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week including public holidays. Skybus departs every 10 minutes and travels to the city centre.

PAX Australia will be held in the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, along the lovely Yarra River.

Melbourne has some great public transport and it got better for out-of-towners this year. Through Zone 1, there are free trams which won’t require a Myki card. The free travel zone is clearly marked and the tram conductors will announce when they approach the boundaries. Information about the free travel zone is available here, which has a downloadable map.

Hotels

PAX Australia is held Halloween weekend (Oct 30th – Nov 1st), which also happens to be the weekend before the Race That Stops the Nation™, the Melbourne Cup. Hotels will be limited this close to both events, so if your accommodation hasn’t been sorted out, you should probably get on that. Look to combine your accommodation with your friends to save some money and keep the party going all weekend long.

If your hotel is booked and ready, confirm your details with them a week or two prior. Make sure you ask what time you can check in and what time they want you to check out. If it’s a late check in, you might be able to leave your luggage with your hotel and explore the city until your room is ready.

Tickets

3-Day passes have sold out. International 3-Day passes are still available as well as Friday, Saturday and Sunday tickets. So if you missed out on the 3-Day combo pass, but still want to go all three days, maybe pick up the tickets now. You can grab those here.

What to Wear

Melbourne is notorious for its insane weather. It’ll swing widely from blistering hot to brain-numbingly cold and every variation in between at the drop of a hat. Here are a few tips to plan your outfit accordingly.

Shirt: Your favourite nerdy t-shirt is going to be comfortable and easily customisable for the weather. You might even make a new friend if you display your fandom with pride.

Pants: Unless you’re a cosplayer, you have to wear pants. Luckily, you’ve got a couple of options for your leg traps:

  • Jeans are your obvious selection; comfortable and easy to move in.
  • Skirts if you’re keen. I’d suggest a maxi skirt so you’ve got a little more clothing to keep you warm in case the weather turns on you.
  • A popular choice with retailers like Living Dead Clothing and Black Milk having styles and fandoms a-plenty. Like jeans, they’ll be easy to move around in when you’re busting a move at the Just Dance! booth.

 

Jacket/Jumper: This is where you need to be smart. You want something that will keep you warm, but won’t be too bulky to carry around or put into backpack. Keep that in mind when packing your comfy as heck, but huge N7 jumper.

Shoes: Whatever isn’t going to make you want to amputate your feet after 20 minutes of walking around. There is going to be opportunities to sit down (panels, lunch, randomly sitting down on the floor refusing to move), but you’re going to be walking around a LOT.

(Day 1 last year I did nearly 25,000 steps.)

**NOTE TO COSPLAYERS**

Same rules apply to weather and stuff. Rug up so you don’t turn into a cos-popsicle.

PAX has some rules about what cosplay weapons you can and can’t bring into the convention. Information is available on the official website, and the Penny Arcade forums, but I’ll stick the guidelines here too:

All prop weapons brought to the show MUST be approved at the Info Booth as soon as you arrive. We will be looking for the following criteria:

  • It cannot fire any sort of projectile. (Nerf guns are only allowed if they have been deactivated and cannot fire.)
  • It cannot be an airsoft weapon. (Yes, even if it’s deactivated.)
  • It cannot be sharp or pointy enough to cut or pierce someone with moderate pressure. This includes all real swords, daggers and knives. It also includes ceramic blades, needles, syringes and anything that can pierce (for example, a Little Sister syringe made of wood would not be allowed)

Upon approval, your weapon and badge will be tagged and catalogued.

The organisers also say “Cosplaying attendees may be asked to alter or modify their costume if it is considered to be overtly sexual.” More information about this is available on the official PAX website, under the “Booth Babes” heading. These rules are to make sure that the event is enjoyable for everyone, since PAX is still a family event.

Cosplay is a huge part of these events, but please remember that cosplayers are people too. If you want a photo, ask the cosplayer first. Cosplayers are generally pretty happy to have photos with people and they appreciate it when people ask before taking a happy snap. If you admire the costume, let the cosplayer know if a polite and courteous way, but don’t touch anything without permission. You don’t know if the bit you’re about to touch is held on securely or not.

Cosplay isn’t consent. Please don’t harass or assault cosplayers at events. It makes the day unpleasant for everyone.

Organising Your Weekend

This is going to be what makes your breaks your weekend. The great thing is that the PAX Australia schedule is released about a month before the event, so you’ve got plenty of time to plan where you need to be.

The Guidebook app will also come in handy. It’s available on Android, iOS, Windows and Blackberry so everyone is covered. The MCEC also has information available on their website about opening and closing times, plus maps of the centre. If you’re prone to getting lost like I am, having a copy of the map on your phone or a physical copy will save you. (Or just ask an Enforcer!)

Mana/Health/Stamina

The most important thing about enjoying the weekend is making sure your stats are up. Making sure that you’re getting enough food and water through the day will guarantee that you’ll be able to experience all three days the way they were meant to be enjoyed.

The MCEC has a variety of food stalls around the place with sandwiches and snacks available, but this might be a little pricey. You can always pack your own snacks and lunch to save a little money (or give you more money to spend on con loot.)

PAX Australia also happens to be held along the Yarra River where the South Wharf Promenade boasts a collection of bars and restaurants for you to chill out during the weekend.

Your mental health is as important as your physical health. Take This are a non-profit charity which run the AFK Room at the PAX events in the US and this year, they bring the concept to Australia. From their website,

More than a quiet room, the Take This AFK Room is a safe space for people who need it, staffed with volunteers and clinicians who can answer questions and offer support for people who are stressed out. Some visitors simply need a break from the excitement and stimulation of a large event. Others seek conversation about mental health related issues.

Overall, observe the 4-2-1 rule:

  • 4 hours sleep (it’s a LONG weekend.)
  • 2 square meals a day (actual meals, not snacks or something)
  • 1 decent shower WITH SOAP (for the sake of everyone)

Finally

Have fun. Take photos, meet people, go to panels, play games, eat, drink and be merry. That’s what these events are about.

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PAX Australia 2014 Survival Guide: The PAXening

paxaus-590x535

Last year, I made a post about preparing for the upcoming PAX Australia convention. I drew on knowledge I’d gathered from other events I’d been to, and asked people who’d been to PAX cons in the US for advice. All my research still didn’t prepare me for just how massive those three days are! Now that I have some firsthand experience, I’m hoping that Survival Guide 2.0 helps new attendees and seasoned con veterans prepare for the event.

Hotels

With PAX Australia being just over two months away, getting any last minute accommodation sorted out would probably be a good idea. Hotels near the area would fill up fast, so look for ones near public transport (see below) for an easy commute. If you’ve already got your accommodation organised, call your hotel/motel/etc about a week before to confirm your booking and check in times. Some places have late arrival times, so knowing what time you can dump your luggage is going to be handy. Make plans if you’ve got some time to kill before you can get into your room.

Travel to/from PAX

The closest airport to the event is Melbourne International Airport. As well as having rental car and taxi options for your convenience, there’s also the Skybus which travels to the city centre from the airport every 10 minutes. The timetable and routes are available here.

This year, PAX is being held at the Melbourne Convention and Entertainment Centre (MCEC), which has five paid car parks scattered around close-by. These car parks are owned by Wilson and can get kinda pricy. ($12 an hour pricy) Carpool if you’re driving and split the cost. As the MCEC is a major convention centre, taxis ($$$), trams, trains and busses are all available and will have a stop close to the centre. Investing in a Myki and having credit loaded on to it will save you time and stress. Check (and double check) routes from where you are to where you need to be.

Getting lost sucks.

Getting lost in an unfamiliar city sucks more.

Tickets

Tickets for the event have sold like hotcakes. 3-day passes are sold out, as are Saturday day passes. International 3-day passes (for those of you flying into the country) are still available, as well as Friday and Sunday day passes.

What to wear

Enjoying yourself is key at events like this, but Melbourne is notorious for its temperamental weather. To avoid some of the PAX Plague, you’ll need to dress and pack accordingly. (Edit: A commentator on Twitter mentioned that when it rains, it pours in Melbourne. Take an umbrella or one of those $2 ponchos.)

Shirts: T-shirts are always comfortable and you’re bound to have a few favourite nerdy shirts lying around.

Pants: Jeans will keep you warm while you’re outside but aren’t going to overheat you while you’re inside. Let’s face it, you’re going to be doing lots of different activities (walking, sitting, gaming) and you’re going to need something that moves with your body. If you wanna wear skinny jeans, you might find they’re a little difficult unless they’re a day old or so.

Jumpers/Jackets: This is where things get difficult. A warm jacket is great for when you’re waiting for transport outside or outside the event, but they can be bulky. Try for something that you’re not going to be bothered carrying around with you all day and night. If you can put it in a bag (or tie it), the better. Same with any accessories like scarves and beanies. Any extra bulk is extra weight that you’re going to have with you the whole day.

Shoes: Whatever you know you can walk in for 8+ hours. It varies from person to person.

Note to Cosplayers:

Cosplayers, remember a jacket at least or layer up so you don’t fall into the same trap I did the first time I cosplayed Black Canary and end up with some kind of death plague because you didn’t dress appropriately.

PAX has some rules about what cosplay weapons you can and can’t bring into the convention. Information is available on the official website, and the Penny Arcade forums.

The organisers also say “Cosplaying attendees may be asked to alter or modify their costume if it is considered to be overtly sexual.” More information about this is available on the official PAX website, under the “Booth Babes” heading. These rules are to make sure that the event is enjoyable for everyone, since PAX is still a family event.

Planning ahead

Planning can be what makes or breaks your weekend. Last year, one of the few complaints people had with the convention was the size of some panels and how long the queues were. Deciding what, who and where you want is going to give you a fighting chance at seeing everything you want. The schedule is available here.

The Guidebook app was a miracle last year and I’m expecting the same this year. It’s available on Android, iOS, Windows and Blackberry so everyone is covered. The MCEC website also has a map of the area, which can help plan where you want to meet up with friends. Edit: PAX released their map of the event, available here.

 

Keeping Fed/Watered

The days will be VERY long and it’s important to keep your energy up.  Keeping yourself fed and watered is going to make sure you’re going to have the energy to get through the day. Make sure you’ve got a bottle of water in your bag so you’ve got something to sip other than energy drink and Coke is going to make sure you’re always hydrated. Lunch and snacks are going to be your major issue.

Either bring food with you, or bring some money for the stuff that the cafes that the MCEC is going to have available. Having cash on hand is going to come in handy for the whole event, but having it with you to buy a quick bite is going to save you bank fees and a lot of time.

The south wharf promenade along the Yarra River has a great selection of bars and restaurants for you to grab a bite to eat during the day. Melbourne is famous for its bar scene, with some of the best places to eat and drink being in the city. PAX have organised a discount for PAX attendees with the owners and licensees of the venues!

Edit: A friend mentioned the 4-2-1 rule.

4 hours sleep (it’s a LONG weekend.)

2 square meals a day (actual meals, not snacks or something)

1 decent shower (for the sake of everyone)

Finally

Remember, have fun! That’s what is most important. There’s tonnes to do over the weekend in and around the event itself so be on the look out for cool stuff to do so enjoy the weekend.

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Australian Saints Row Incompatible With Other Copies

The Saints Row 4 saga continues with the publishing team behind the game Volution Inc. releasing an announcement on the official SR4 Facebook page today.

For the game to be classified in Australia, an optional mission had to be removed to conform to the rules of the classification board. Because this mission is no longer in the game, the Australian version of the game isn’t compatible with other copies. In other words, Australians can’t play co-op mode with their international friends.

While we are very proud of all our different missions, we do feel that Saints Row IV on the whole remains largely the same without this single optional mission, and we also feel that you deserve to know what you are getting in Australia. Due to the changes we were forced to make, this version is different than the version rated by rating boards like the ESRB, USK, and PEGI, which is why it will be incompatible with those versions in co-op.

Australian gamers have taken to the Internet to voice their outrage with many saying they’ll cancel pre-orders through Steam or at their local game shop and look to buy the game overseas to make sure they have fair access to the co-op campaign mode of Saints Row 4.

Late last week the game was given an MA15+ rating in Australia, allowing people 15 years and over access to the adult video game. Gamers are asking why they campaigned so hard for an R18+ rating when games that have been rated R18+ by other boards are censored and given inappropriate ratings here in Australia. People at the development company were upset to hear that the game had been given an MA15+ rating as they feel their game isn’t appropriate for anyone under the age of 18 years.

Personally, the whole thing is turning into a joke. I’m incredibly disappointed that Australian fans who buy the Australian version of the game won’t be able to play with their friends, that the Australian Classification Board gave this game an MA15+ rating when it’s clearly intended for adults and that the whole issue has become so drawn out. Australia, we really need to grow up.

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“Your Feedback Matters” – Microsoft Listen To Criticism and Change Everything.

Hardware developers have no respect for sleeping schedules I tell ya….

Today, Microsoft announced that it would remove the dreaded DRM and used-game policies that everyone has been so anxious about. Previously, your Xbox One would need to check in to the Xbox servers once every 24-hours to verify files. Microsoft tried to calm the waters by saying that the files that would be transferred were so small you could tether your phone to your Xbox for this check-in. Alas, the masses had spoken and they didn’t want to be anywhere near this DRM.

The used game policy was just as confusing and frustrating for consumers (even I’m still trying to get my head around the ex-policy). And that’s partly Microsoft’s fault, they weren’t very clear in explaining how trading and lending games. But they’re now changing the policy so that used games are handled the same way they’re handled on your Xbox 360; whether that’s a good or bad thing.

What’s new? The Xbox One is now region free which is something I’ve wanted for years. For too long have we been punished in Australia for our location and thus, we get games about a month behind the world (which the exception of one or two games to keep the unruly masses at bay) so now, you don’t have to wait. I’m a sucker for pre-order shinies so I might still have to wait, but at least I’ve got the choice to get a game in advance.

There’s an article on Gizmodo that outlines the ways that this change could really suck for the customer. It’s a really good read. I’d suggest going in with an open mind and seeing how it changes your mind on things.

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Sony Vs Microsoft. Who Won? #E3 #SonyE3 #XboxE3

Sony just destroyed Microsoft at E3, although Sony has a pretty average selection of games on launch. Both prices have been confirmed and are as follows:

PS4:
Console: $549
Controller: $99
Games: $118

Xbox One:
Console: $599
Controller: $99
Games: $118

Microsoft did announce a redesigned Xbox 360 which is smaller and quieter than the current models, that your Xbox Gold sub will go across to Xbox One and that you’ll be able to download two free games per month. Also has a partnership with Twitch.TV so you can broadcast your games live.

Sony announced that there won’t be any restrictions on used games, no online authentication and that online multiplayer will now require PlayStation Plus. PS4 is region free. They announced the console would be priced at $399 in the US. Anyone notice the $150 mark up in Australian Price? That’s right, Australian Tax strikes again.

 

Update: EB Games confirms that the $118 price tag on PS4 and Xbox One games is only a placeholder.

[tweet https://twitter.com/EBGamesAus/status/344337172855402496]

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SEGA Bids Farewell to its Australian Development House

According to both Gamasutra and Kotaku AU, SEGA is closing down the Australian arm of its development studio later this year.

After last year’s staff layoffs, this closure may come as no surprise to some watching the market closely. While the media release doesn’t say how many employees will be affected, this recent closure adds to the worrying trend of Australian development houses. Team Bondi closed its doors in 2011 after the controversy that struck with the Triple-A game, “L.A. Noire.”

Not only this, but this is the second development house to be killed off by their parent company this week.

Disney representatives announced that it would be shifting LucasArts to a new licensing format instead of a internal development studio. LucasArts were responsible for Psychonauts and Grim Fandango and had been working on Star Wars: 1313, which had great interest from gamers.

Whatever games these development house had in store for us will either be sold to other developers or left to linger in the world of “what if?”

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Blizzard Honour Diablo 3 Pre-Orders made through Game

The GAME saga continues today with the release of Diablo 3 (colour me surprised it didn’t break street date). It’s now well known that the unfortunate souls who pre-ordered Diablo 3 won’t be getting their box of goodies as GAME aren’t honouring pre-orders as they plunge into debt, but the developer Blizzard have come through and made a bad situation a little less bad (and got some wonderful publicity at that.) An announcement on the Diablo 3 forums from Lylirra says

We’re aware that some Australian GAME customers have been left out in the cold on what should be the hottest night of the year — the launch of Diablo III. To help with this situation and get these players into the game as soon as possible, we’ve put the following process in place.

Australian GAME customers with a valid preorder/prepurchase receipt dated before May 15, 2012 can do the following:
1. Purchase the digital version of Diablo III from http://www.diablo3.com now or anytime before May 21, 2012.

2. Download and start playing when the servers go live!

3. Submit your GAME Australia preorder/prepurchase receipt to us before June 30, 2012.

4. Receive a credit from Blizzard, for the amount you paid in advance to GAME Australia for Diablo III. This credit will be applied to the payment method used for the digital purchase.

We’ll post further details here on how to submit your GAME Australia receipt to our customer service team as soon as possible. Stay tuned, and we look forward to seeing you in the Burning Hells!

So there you have it! While it’s unfortunate that GAME can’t honour their customer’s purchases, Blizzard are doing a very nice thing. How often can you say that about a games developer?

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GAME Australia goes into Administration.

The Australian gaming industry took another blow today with brick-and-mortar store GAME announcing it’s going into administration. Sending emails to their stores and confirming the story with Kotaku, all the speculation about whether the Australian arm of the company would follow its UK brethren who entered administration earlier this year. While it looked good for the brief period between GAME UK’s march store closures and now, it’s clear that we won’t see pretty purple signs in our shopping centres for much longer.

It was good while it lasted.

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