We showed up the next day in much more appropriate attire and set off towards the Discussion Panels. There was an interesting panel named “In the Trenches: A Game Development Q&A with Bioware”. We arrived a little late, but still got to participate in the discussion. The gentlemen who worked at the BioWare Austin offices said that their job mostly entailed creating trailers for the games that BioWare makes. I obviously had a lot of questions about the types of footage they use in trailers but did not ask them because I had guessed most of those questions had already been answered and didn’t want to hold up the conversation on account of my tardiness. One questions asked was what kind of education or training one would need to work at a BioWare office, which the speakers had a very interesting response for. They said they getting a traditional education from a university in the gaming field does help, but not necessarily required. They said they were more interested in hiring people with actual experience, and not necessarily from an actual job you were hired to do. A portfolio of sorts that showcased your past work is very appealing to their hiring staff. They recommended in order to build this portfolio that you use many of the various free tools and software such as game engines and video editing software, to help build it. So for all of those aspiring game developers out there, you don’t need to spend ass loads of money on an education, you just need to dedicate the time to learning these tools and using your own creativity to start building your own portfolio. After the panel was over we headed back to the main expo. On the way we noticed something called Archery Tag, something I was unfamiliar with, but my photographer said he had played when he was younger. Archery Tag consisted of some arrows with tennis balls attached to the end, some protective gear and a bow to shoot your friends with. They had some cover which resembled a paintball arena and had two teams shooting at each other. It looked like a blast but we neglected to join because we had a lot of stuff to look at that day.
After getting back into the main expo floor we visited all of the various vendor booths to see what they had going on. There was a very large Oculus Rift booth which featured a shooter PVP game and was running a tournament over the whole weekend with various prizes. This booth always had a very large line so we decided to pass on that. The next booth was the BenQ/Zowie booth which had a lot of their products available for testing and playing on, as well as the option to buy their products as well. Behind that booth was the HyperX booth which operated basically the same way the BenQ/Zowie booth did. Next booth was the ROG (Republic of Gamers) booth which featured basically the same as the previous booths but they had an HTC Vive available to test out on their products. The only vendor booth like these that did anything different was the Aorus booth. They had their products on display but also ran gaming tournaments all weekend in CS:GO, LoL 1v1s and Overwatch. You earned points depending on how well you did and you could spend those point on various prizes. Top prizes included a gaming laptop, GPU, CPU, MOBO and other various peripherals. Aside from the manufacturer booths there were also vendor booths selling video game merchandise, esports jerseys and even gaming desks. There was also a Monster Energy booth where you could drink all the Monster you wanted which was pretty neat, but you couldn’t bring the drink outside the booth with you. I was somewhat disappointed by the lack of video game developers with booths at the event. There were only 3, 2 of which were VR games. One of the VR games was a horror/shooter game which I had no interest in but the other VR game, Kung Fu Shadow Fist, showed lots of promise. Kung Fu Shadow Fist was a VR Arcade Brawler, so think of a VR version of Streets of Rage , River City Ransom: Underground or Mother Russia Bleeds. I spoke with the developer a bit about his game and he was very excited to talk about it. They wanted to bring the first brawler experience to VR, but this of course has its issues, especially in a game where you have to physically punch your enemies to defeat them. The danger of accidentally punching a real object or one of your buddies is always present. The developer said the game still had some work to be done, currently it was taking around a minute to load a fresh game for each player, which they were working on fixing. He also said they plan to release the game on Steam* by the end of the year.
The 3rd developer booth was by far my favorite and much more my flavor. This booth was put together by the Developer at Planet Tobor and they were featuring their game, Savage: The Shard of Gosen. This game is an action 2D platformer with an focus on skill. Think Castlevania combined with Dark Souls. I spoke with solo dev Matthew Fitzgerald about his game and even got a chance to play it. I really enjoyed it and knew SNERDs would get a kick out of it, so I shared it with him and played it himself that night. He even enjoyed it so much, I let him write the review of the game, check it out here. We also spoke with Matthew and he agreed to do a developer interview with us in the future, so check back with us for that.
In between visiting the booths we were always checking in at the CS:GO stage to see how our boys from NA were doing. Unfortunately both NA teams, Team Liquid and Cloud 9 were both knocked out of the tournament that day by G2. At the end of the day the four teams to progress to the finals of the tournament were: G2, Heroic, Immortals and Gambit. The next day those four teams would face off to see who took home the top prize of $50,000. The next part of our journey took us into the BYOC area. We were able to talk with various event attendees and ask them about their experiences, what all they enjoyed and took pictures of some really awesome PCs. There was even a computer inside of an aquarium that had fish swimming around it. Check out the full photo gallery here.
The final part of our day consisted of attending some Discussion Panels I was interested in seeing. The first panel was Dogs in Gaming, and based on how technical the Bioware Q&A was I was expecting something along the lines of dogs and their part in video games. Basically I was expecting to play video games with puppies, but was in for something completely different. The panel consisted of a nice young lady giving a presentation on famous dogs in video games and where they ranked on the “Dog Goodness Meter”. Even though it was not what I was expecting I still thoroughly enjoyed myself and participated in the discussion. After the Dogs in Gaming panel we headed to the panel next door to watch a sword fighting exhibit. It consisted of people in armor using real swords dueling and a scores were kept similar to how fencing is done. It was basically IRL Dark Souls and really fun to watch. By now the most of the expo had closed for the night so we decided to head back home. Later that night I went to a Trey Anastasio Band show at Stubb’s and partied my little butt off, but you guys don’t want to hear me talk about my jam band hippie crap, so I’ll spare you the details. Click HERE to check out Day 3.