Archive for September, 2007

PAX III: Brush with Fame

Posted by Arlo on Sep 18, 2007 under Life of Arlo

Jonathan Coulton sings Baby Got Back

While I was still debating about whether or not to go to PAX, Gabe and Tycho began to announce their lineup. Wil Wheaton was giving the keynote, Jonathan Coulton and Freezepop would be playing in the concerts. If Gabe and Tycho weren’t big enough draws, any one of the others might have been enough for me to commit. Put all of them together and you might not have been able to prevent me from flying to Seattle.

Just before leaving Juneau, I discovered that the first round of the Omegathon round was scheduled right up against Wil Wheaton’s keynote address. I couldn’t believe it! When I mentioned it to him, Travis promised me that the round would be over quickly and, at the very least, I could leave at any time to watch the keynote instead. Without a time limit, the last Jenga match dragged on forever. I could have left, but the suspense and anticipation was so high at that point, I didn’t want to miss the moment the last tower fell.

Gabe and Tycho attended most of the Omegathon, but they were always focused on the competition. I couldn’t bring myself to get all fanboy and introduce myself to them.

(Later in the day, I did ask Travis to introduce me to Kara, Gabe’s wife. I’d played a time or two with her in World of Warcraft and wanted to say hello. He introduced me as “Arlo,” and I think she saw me as just another one of the hundreds of black-shirted enforcers. I mumbled something it being nice to meet her after raiding with her a time or two. I will label her smile and reply as “dismissive.”)

I’d missed Wil’s speech, but I was sure the keynote would be all over the internet by the time I got home. It wouldn’t be the same as listening to him from the audience, but it would suffice. Besides, I’d spotted the booth set aside for his autographing session. Perhaps I would be able to spot him there later in the day…

Alas, no. I stopped by many times, but as far as I could tell, Wil never set any time aside for book signings.

Freezepop, who wrote one of my favorite song in Guitar Hero II, played on Friday night. However, my lack of sleep combined with a general lack of interest from the rest of our group of meant that I was easily talked into a casual dinner and early bedtime, instead. 0-for-2.

It was a good thing I was having so much fun hanging out with my new friends, because other than escorting the Neskimos to the stage for their sound check, I didn’t meet a single famous person on Friday.

Saturday and Sunday more than made up for it.
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PAX II: The Omegathon

Posted by Arlo on Sep 11, 2007 under Life of Arlo, Videos

Mike Krahulik, aka Gabe

When I pre-registered for PAX earlier this year, I did so without even knowing if I would attend.  I did it in the hopes of being selected for the Omegathon.

The Omegathon is a video game competition among 20 gamers who are randomly selected from all those that pre-register.  There are five elimination rounds conducted with predetermined games and a final round between the two remaining players.  The culmination of the entire PAX conference is the last round of the Omegathon and the final game is always kept secret.  Prizes are amazing – expensive custom PCs, a complete Nintendo Entertainment System with every game ever published, a Toyota Scion with an XBOX 360 thrown in for good measure, and this year, a trip to Tokyo and $5000.  The final games for the first three Omegathons were Pong, Atari Combat, and Tetris, respectively.  After seeing the 2005 crowd’s reaction to the Combat match, I knew I had to a least throw my name into the hat.

With 20,000 attendees last year, my odds of being selected as one of the 20 were slim.  But if I were to be selected… Well then, that would have forced my hand.  1 in a 1000?  I’d have to buy a plane ticket to Seattle.

The Omeganaut announcement came and went, and predictably, I wasn’t chosen.  However, by that time I’d already committed to going.  Turns out I was to become more involved in the Omegathon than if I’d been merely playing as a contestant.

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PAX I: Background

Posted by Arlo on Sep 5, 2007 under Life of Arlo

2007 Omeganauts with Gabe and Tycho

It’s been almost two weeks since I attended the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) in Seattle. I’m still distilling my own thoughts and emotions on the weekend – the pleasure of meeting new friends, schmoozing with famous people, the incredible stress of my volunteer workload, the joy of showing my work to so many people, and the praise I received for it. It’ll take some time to write it all up, edit the videos, and sort through the hundreds of digital photos. Instead of waiting until I get it all down, I’ll post as it comes.

First, some background:

I’ve been a casual reader of Penny Arcade for a long time. At first I was attracted to Tycho’s writing, but I came to be impressed by Gabe’s obvious work ethic and sense of humor, too. I’d visit their site from time to time, but it wasn’t until they proposed a Penny Arcade Alliance on World of Warcraft that I became a real fan.

Despite starting my character about 30 levels behind, I managed to catch up and play with Dudefella, Gabe’s character, on the Dark Iron server. It was he that invited me into the Fancy Lads guild, it was he that invited me on horde-hunts nightly through the Western Plaguelands, and it was he that recruited me into Dudefella’s Arathi Basin Crew. I even ran Molten Core with his wife a time or two.

Sadly, Dudefella and Kimbela have stopped playing, but it was in his AB Crew that I met a friend of his, Elli. I’ve been running battlegrounds with Elli for, oh, probably more than a year now. We’ve chatted over Ventrilo and despite never using our real names, managed to get to know each other fairly well. Since the Burning Crusade expansion pack came out in January, Elli’s real-life friends and my own have formed a tight-knit little raiding party.

Earlier this year, I made a commitment to go to PAX, the Penny Arcade Expo, in Seattle. Oksana readily agreed to go with me, if only so she could do some shopping shop while I toured the video game related booths, panels, and concerts. When I mentioned to Elli that I’d be coming down for the convention, suggesting that we might be able to meet up, he went a step further and recruited me into his volunteer team of Omegatechs. His offer would be the catalyst for an amazing weekend.

At the last minute, our friends Mike and Amelia decided to join us. We booked hotels and flights, paid for our conference passes, and arrived just before the last weekend in August…

(To be continued…)

Strawberries and Perseids

Posted by Arlo on Sep 2, 2007 under Life of Arlo

A hand full of wild strawberriesIt rains a lot in Southeast Alaska, but when it’s sunny, there’s no place I’d rather be.  Besides the Playboy Mansion.
Oksana’s been struggling to get back to a 40-hour work week, but the weather was just too nice on the third weekend in August to let her spend it behind a desk.  I convinced her to pass the day with me instead, and we decided to drive out to Eagle Beach and hike around.  The tide was high and the little strip of rocky shore that remained was already crowded with people.  We decided to walk through the tall grass fields along the river.
Walking slowly, taking pictures of flowers on the shore and the occasional sea lion poking his head out of the river, Oksana suddenly stopped walking.
“I smell strawberries.” she said.
“What?  I don’t smell anything.”
“There are strawberries here!”

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