Last year, I had the privilege of being invited to attend Halo Fest. As I had only attended Phoenix Comicon previously, this was a big first step for me. My first PAX, and my first step into the wider Halo community.
One year later, and I am on a plane, heading back. The man sitting next to me and myself chat about our purpose for traveling to Seattle. When we both discover that we’re attending for the same reason, two more heads within earshot of our conversation crane their necks in our direction. “PAX?” they mouth. PAX, we confirm, giving the thumbs up. As the flight attendants prepare for takeoff, I catch sight of a defibrillator out of the corner of my eye, brand: Forerunner.
After landing, a car pulls up to pick me up. Driving is Lionheart, riding shotgun, Bryan Newman, and in the back seat is TDSpiral. I throw my stuff in the back and we take off for the hotel. When we arrive, I point out the sign out front, which says: “WIFI HBO SPA”
One could easily pretend that they knew we were coming. Although for some reason they threw a rock in front of the parking spot we wanted.
We spent the evening discussing Venerance and many of the designs from various Halo games, as well as general Halo talk. After figuring out where festivities were occurring, we headed over to the Rukar-B-Q, stopping along the way to pick up some food and beverages (accidental racist consumables were accidental). We showed up shortly after the start of the Lars vs Lars Cup,
just in time for the closing of that, and Claude’s excellent impromptu speech, which everyone should watch below at the 3:06 mark.
We hung around awkwardly, all of us out of the loop and more than confused by what we were witnessing. After the end of that competition, we mingled with everyone. Realizing early on that because we had shown up late the time for handshakes had already passed, I had to switch up my tactics. But from then on, it was pure awesome. Because I had met so many of the people in attendance, I felt right at home. Much like last year, the camaraderie and fun atmosphere of having so many Halo fans in one place kicked off the trip early on, and set the tone for the rest of the weekend. As Rukari put it towards the end of the night “PAX hasn’t even started yet!”
We woke up early, planning on arriving at the HBO breakfast shortly before PAX opened. However, due to one member of our party finding it necessary to fully complete his morning routine, we arrived late, couldn’t get chairs due to the small size of the room, and didn’t have time to grab food before everyone else took off.
As was appropriate for the first meetup of Halo fans at the start of PAX, someone brought their MA37.
While standing, Kanbo passed out the new HBO2012 shirts.
From there, we headed to the Rooster Teeth panel, managed to sneak in the back stage and witness the extremely content-less but still predictably enjoyable panel.
After that, a small group and I headed to find some food and ended up waiting a long time in line for pizza right in the main convention center. Following that, we headed up to the Halo 4 booth for the first time. Everyone was hanging around the area,; some were playing, the rest were chatting with the people from 343 Industries. I hung around and silently observed for a long while, first taking in the setting of the new map, trying to see if it was on Requiem or some other planet. After locating three moons in the sky high above, I determined that it was not Requiem. For the sake of brevity I’ll just assume everyone else reading this either already knows – or doesn’t care about – the well-documented changes/additions to multiplayer that I also noticed while standing there. Eventually I decided to wander the show floor in order to take in all the sights. One other booth that particularly struck me was the Aliens: Colonial Marines booth.
In fact, it struck me so much that I decided to preorder the collector’s edition (which comes with a miniature version of the above statue, as well as some cool in-universe stuff, which is always a big sell for me). Following that, more Halo 4 booth. Every time I was there I just generally stood around and observed others playing, able to take in the details more.
Later, myself and many other privileged individuals hopped on a bus and sped off to the not-so-secret community playdate.
There was drinks, pizza, cupcakes, mini-Chiefs, proposals, cool secret stuff, and swag. And cupcakes.
We went home that night immensely satisfied.
I don’t remember much of what happened this morning up until the point where I ran headlong into EisenFeuer, the guy who was responsible for the great Portal fan-film “Outside Aperture”, and who happens to be from my hometown. He was chatting with Claude and so I went up and talked with him a bit before following him to the panel he was on “Virtual Reality: Bringing Video Games to Life” (also featuring some of the crew of The Fallen). An uncertain amount of time passed between the last sentence and this next one. Then… the Halo Reborn panel. Seating situation was FUBAR because of an inadequate room size and a lot of people who should have had seats up front did not. It was a mess that was beyond 343i’s control, and it was clear that they were not happy with it, but they did the best they could. But the video released was absolutely amazing, the best one released so far, and it completely cemented in my mind exactly how great Halo 4 is going to be. The panel was excellent as well, with a surprising lack of pointless questions, and one question (by Lionheart) that got a rather interesting answer (skip to 26:21 for question).
The answer to the question before that was rather interesting as well, depending on how much you want to read into things. Afterwards I headed over to where Bruce Thomas and Mckenzie Mason were doing their signing, but decided to pass on it in the interest of time, although now my Halo 4 poster has two rather sad looking unsigned spaces above their respective characters. ncsuDuncan had booked the basement of the Alibi Room for some of us for dinner, and so I decided instead of head over there in order to eat, drink, and socialized. Half of us talked business (see: Halo) while the other half watched some absurd spy movie playing behind the bar, involving some guy sneaking into a castle using suction cup devices, and then catapulting himself off in order to escape the villains… or did he really? It was hilarious to watch. I had some great conversations at this dinner. Following that, Super Smash Bros w/ Schooly D and company, although the company doesn’t matter quite as much because… come on! It’s Schooly D! (also he’s not a douche)
The next day, Lionheart, Brian Newman and myself decided to sleep in, as there weren’t quite as many things to see on the final day. Easing in to PAX a little later in the day, we spent most of our time chatting with people from 343 Industries around the Halo booth. I took some down time to seek out individuals and get them involved with the upcoming Project AETHER (to be announced in T-minus 3 weeks), as well as obtain some swag for a personal contest I will be running very soon on HBO. I decided, since I wouldn’t have a chance to play it elsewhere, it would be worth waiting in line to get my hands on Spartan Ops. I can say, both from playing and from watching play from standing in line, that the Knights are much more intimidating when you’re playing than when you watch gameplay in videos. The way they move about the battlefield is menacing and ominous. It reminded me somewhat of being stalked by the Alien Queen if she had a hard-light lance and a rifle. Finally, it was the end of the day and the Halo 4 line had closed, with the last of those who were patiently waiting finally trickling in to the play area. And what do you know, it just happened to be HBO! So TDSpiral and I hopped in line, ready for some epic Battle Bro time! But… they split the line. But fear not, for the Battle Bros will one day reunite to reign carnage down on all unsuspecting combatants! Probably sometime early in the morning of some specific day 2 months from now before we all go out to vote.
One final dinner was in the Elephant and Castle’s billiards room for those who were not at ONI SPECIAL ASSEMBLY: Within the pages of Halsey’s journal lies a secret invitation (“oh wow”), closing off PAX 2012 much as we had Halo Fest 2011… with a toast! Although my voice wasn’t quite as loud or eloquent as GrimBrother One’s was last year.
Thanks so much to everyone who helped make PAX 2012 amazing!
Other random PAX pictures: