Friday, August 31

PAX 2012: Incredipede, the First Woodcut Video Game (Kind Of)

by Jason Toon

So many of the games you see at PAX have one of two aesthetics: either grimy & grim, or antiseptic & shiny. So when I saw the handmade look of Incredipede, I had to stop and ask what it was. (And I mean that literally: I had to ask. Incredipede didn't have a booth of its own, or even a sign. Lead developer Colin Northway was just using another booth's monitor screen until their regularly scheduled presentation was ready.)

Northway says the game's distinctive look was created by woodcut artist Thomas Shahan. "Thomas hadn't done games before, but he just really nailed it. He would sit there with a Wacom tablet and 'cut' lines on the screen, the same way he would for a woodblock print."

The archaic, organic feel perfectly complements Incredipede's build-an-organism gameplay. And that's no accident. The look was inspired by "old botany books from the 1700's," Northway says. "During the age of exploration, every expedition would have a botanist on board, to document all the new plants they were seeing. Imagine what it was like to be in England at the time and get one of these books! We're trying to capture that."

Incredipede comes out for PC and Mac in October. Here's hoping it heralds something new in video games: a return to the old.

We'll be stumbling through PAX 2012 like a mad-scientist monstrosity, all weekend long.

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Action PAX: Woot Goes To The 2012 Penny Arcade Expo

by Jason Toon

The 2012 Penny Arcade Expo rolls into Seattle this weekend with the fury of a thousand balled-up hedgehogs. And just like last year, the Woot writers are covering this massive celebration of gamer culture right here on the Woot blog.

This isn't us. We're nowhere near this cute.

And what better way to kick off the Internet's least informative 2012 PAX coverage than with some cosplay pics (always the meat in any con-coverage sandwich)? The official program says "PAX is not a cosplay-heavy event," but it's all relative: you see a lot more costumes at PAX than at, say, your local supermarket. After the jump, check out one day's worth of grown-ups playing dress-up…

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Monday, August 29

PAX 2011: Invasion From Outer Space (Or, Flying Frog Does It Again)

by Sean Adams

Nothing too exciting to report from last Saturday: woke up, took a run, walked down the street for a coffee and a donut, and then saved the world from alien invaders. You know, the usual. But hey, I shouldn’t take all the credit for saving the world. I mean, I really couldn’t have done it without the help of Cassidy the trick shooter and Jojo the dancing bear.

Wait! Hold on! Before you walk away from your computer to call Woot HR and let them know that one of the writers is clearly blogging drunk, I should probably explain something: I did this all (minus the running and the breakfast) as part of the Flying Frog board game Invasion From Outer Space. They're the same people behind the Fortune and Glory board game that Jason Toon raved over in this space (no pun intended). They're not paying us, or even giving us free stuff. They just make great games, as you'll see...

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PAX 2011: To The Fruit Ninja Go the Spoils

by Jason Toon

Most companies set up their hierarchies based on things like talent, experience, and ability. Here at Woot, we prefer a system based on proficiency in Fruit Ninja. We've found it's the best way to promote those executives who can best hack and slash at the flying fruit of commerce and business. So when we saw Fruit Ninja Kinect's debut at PAX, it was more than just a fun new way to play the game that's swept mobile devices worldwide - it was an opportunity for Sean to steal my job in an Oedipal ritual of supervisor-slaying.

We told the nice fellow running the booth to set it for Party Mode. "Are you sure?" he asked, worry creasing his brow. Clearly, he was aware of the high stakes involved. We were sure, and the virtual fruit started flying. Alas, in the 15 seconds it took me to get the hang of the big, sweeping swipes necessary for Kinect success, my status and honor splattered like so much watermelon pulp. A late rally wasn't enough, as Sean held on for a 44-32 victory and an immediate promotion. Who says having your career demolished can't be fun?

It wasn't the camera: the fury of our battle actually shook the Washington State Convention Center.

You win this round, Adams. But when you see a lonely figure in the conference room, swiping and chopping the air for hours, never relenting, honing his Fruit Ninja skills to a keen and deadly edge, know this: your tenancy in the desk by the window will be fleeting.

Our PAX 2011 coverage isn't always this messy.

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PAX 2011: Nun Games!!!

by Sean Adams

PAX 2011 ended yesterday - today we'll be posting the last bits of our dork-on-the-scene PAX coverage, like this...

It seems like you can’t throw a rock at PAX without hitting some booth promoting its game about orcs or zombies or ninjas or cybermarines. But if these unchaste heathens aren’t your style, don’t worry – you can always fall back one of the many games there are about… nuns! Well, “many” might be an overstatement. But we did find two.

First was a board game, Nuns on the Run. Despite its alliterated pornographic-sounding subtitle – “Naughty Novices Dodging Discovery” – the game is actually suitable for players aged 10 years old and up. At night, the novices are lured out of their cells by the excitement of exploring the abbey. As they wander through the halls, they must keep an eye out for the abbess and prioress on patrol. To win the game, the novices must get back to their beds without being caught. EXCITING!!!!

But hey, maybe you don’t want to deal with young, sneaky nuns. Maybe you like your nuns kicking ass and taking names in vain. Well, then get ready for Nun Attack coming this winter to your iPad or iPhone! Information about the game is limited, but looking at the four characters that make up your “Elite Covert Ops Strike Team” of twisted sisters (with names like Slayer and Tank) the game should be pretty juicy!

Go and sin no more, because you'll be too busy catching up with our PAX 2011 coverage to have any time for sinning.

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Saturday, August 27

PAX 2011: The Gaming Family

by Sean Adams

! Fun for the whole family! Who wouldn’t want to share with a young one the beauty and joy of… this thing:

But it was as I walked away from this drill-handed submarine monster (please don’t kill me in the comments if this is some easily recognizable figure from game culture) that I saw what appeared to be a mother, father, and daughter walking eagerly from exhibit to exhibit. And they were hardly the first family outing I saw at PAX. Call me close-minded, but I found this odd...

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Friday, August 26

PAX Booth Spotlight: Utilikilts

by Sean Adams

You might remember back in December of 2010 our Wootcast made mention of Utilikilts, in which it inspired our Million-Dollar Idea, The Utilitutu. Well, as fate would have it, Utilikilts popped up on our radar once again today on the PAX show floor.

Where did it come from? As the saying goes, dehydrated intoxication is the mother of necessity. According to legend, a man was out working on his motorcycle one hot afternoon in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. He was hot. He was sweaty. He might have been a little drunk. That’s not important. What you need to know is that he had the genius idea to cut the crotch out of his jeans, because who needs that thing, right?? Anway, after that, he asked his sister to teach him how to sew, and the rest, as they say is history.

The Utilikilts idea is a patriotic one. When they advertise themselves as “American made utility kilts for everyday wear” they sure do mean American. These kilts are made in America, by America, and with materials from America. And, I mean, could there possibly be a better product to display such patriotism? Who could possibly look at a kilt and think of any country aside from America?

“Whoa, whoa! Hold on! Utility kilt? For what could it possibly be utilized for?” That’s a good question with an even better answer: gettin’ crunk! When shopping for your utility kilt, you want to have two important numbers in mind: 1) your waist size, and 2) how many brewskis you want to be hauling around. Don’t worry; the options are varied to suit any (heavy) drinking habit. For example, you’ve got your “original” Utilikilt; this guy’s got you covered for 5 beers. On the other hand, the Survival (pictured above in fashionable camoflauge) can pack UP TO 20 BOTTLES OF BEER! And I know that I may not be speaking for everyone here, but personally there is no better recipe for a good time on Friday night than twenty beers and an article of clothing that allows me to quickly and easily expose my junk!

But seriously, just go to their website and browse their photos, and you’ll see that Utilikilts can actually be used for all sorts of things. Why just look at this guy, working construction! No shirt, no hair, no inseam, no problem!

Peek under our kilts at our PAX coverage all weekend long.

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PAX: Brutal President-On-President Action!

by Jason Toon

I didn't go to PAX to play the same old games everybody else is playing. Mostly because I'm pretty terrible at video games and I'd make a fool of myself in front of a large group of people. But also because I crave the new, the novel, the exciting. As I scanned the exhibition hall at PAX, seeking out that fresh thrill, a pair of cartoon muttonchops beckoned to me from a video screen. Could it be...? Was it...? It was! 21st President Chester A. Arthur! What's a third-tier caretaker president like you doing in a place like this?

Turns out virtual Chet was starring in a new iPad/iPhone app game called Uncle Slam: President vs. President. Woot writer Sean Adams and I sat down to an iPad and squared off. Since I couldn't play my distant relation James Buchanan - whose consensus reputation as a very bad president I choose to interpret as "bad as in 'bad-ass'" - I settled for the next-worst thing, Millard Fillmore, unlucky #13. Sean took his namesake John Adams. It was the battle history has been waiting for.

Unfortunately the game was fairly lame. I feel bad saying it. It's a cute idea and everything. But the controls weren't at all responsive, the combat options were limited even by iPad app standards, and neither Sean, nor I, nor any of the other players playing the demo at the booth seemed to understand why their chosen presidents didn't seem to be doing what the players wanted them to do.

Not that I let any of that deprive me of the satisfaction of victory. Eat canvas, Adams - you just got Millarded!

I really wanted to like this game, but the clumsy gameplay (and liberal use of Comic Sans) had me voting for impeachment. While the concept behind Uncle Slam may be worthy of a James Monroe or Dwight Eisenhower, but the execution is more at the level of a Warren G. Harding.

Stay tuned for more PAX coverage on the Woot blog this weekend, including an exclusive first look at Walter Mondale: Mechacommando.

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PAX Whoa-Man-a: Woot Goes to the Penny Arcade Expo

by Jason Toon

This weekend, 60,000-odd gamers (and we do mean odd) will descend on Seattle for PAX Prime, the gigantic convention of videogamers, table-top gamers, and other assorted weirdos. Two of the weirdest will be me (below) and fellow Woot writer Sean Adams (slightly less far below), and we'll pass the lunacy on to you right here on the Woot blog and the @WootLive twitter feed.

No, you can't have any cheese. We're saving it for the EA Origin afterparty.

If you see us stumbling around, do NOT look us in the eyes. You might set off our defensive reflexes and we can't be responsible for what happens next. (Naw, f'real, if you see two nerds in Woot shirts, please say hi. Whether they happen to be us or not, nerds in Woot shirts need all the love we can get.)

Anyway, whether you're in Seattle for PAX or valiantly defending the freedom of the Yars from the ruthless Qotile back at home, keep your eye on the Woot blog and the @WootLive twitter feed (Internet connection permitting) for the kind of PAX coverage that nobody else would ever stoop to posting online!

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