Saturday, March 30, 2013

D&D and NeverWinter Party - PAX East 2013

The floor show is not the only place that PAX East action takes place. Some of the best places to meet people, play games and socialize are the parties that take place after the Expo Hall closes. Some are large loud affairs akin to the raves or clubs, while others - which I prefer - are more intimate affairs that allow actual conversations while still having a great fun vibe to them.

One of these more subdued parties was the D&D and Neverwinter Party. Taking place in a a private room of a popular local Boston restaurant the party had everything: MMO game demos, D&D creators and even the famous writer R.A. Salvatore.

MMORPG - Neverwinter Saga Demo
While the lines at the Neverwinter Sage Demo on the PAX East show floor stretched around the booth for much of the weekend, here we had easy access to two laptops. Each one had a different character model - one was a warrior the other was a mage. Now, I'm normally not a MMO player, but I was immediately struck with the easy of accessibility that Neverwinter Saga presented. There are the standards for MMOs present, such as cool-downs and abilities that were beautifully rendered and smooth. What really stood out to me was the little tweaks to the formula: gone is the endless comparing of loot to decide if the tiniest of differences will give you one more damage per second (DPS). In Saga these numbers are still there, but there is also a simple summary under the two items that breaks down the differences in an easy to see and quickly decide format. Being at the Neverwinter Party also offered me the opportunity to talk with the CEO of Cryptic Studios to discuss all the features and direction that their game hoped bring. Again, I'm not a MMO player, but seriously, even after playing as the Warrior for nearly an hour I really just wanted to hop back in and re-roll as the Mage.

Dungeons and Dragons

I'll probably get some flack for this, but again, I'm not a huge TableTop gamer either. Still, the impact and influence that Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) has had on the RPG genre can not be denied. Here at the D&D and Neverwinter Party people had the chance to sit down with two of the creators of the D&D Tabletop game and discuss the next iteration of the game. The most stand-out feature of the next rule-set was when they told me that in a unique twist, players will have the chance to submit the rules THEY want in the game. This is exciting and daunting at the same time. Some of these fans have been playing for decades and truly invested in the stories, camaraderie that ensues and adaptive nature of a tabletop RPG. There are also those who are not as invested. It's an interesting experiment that is sure to shape the future iterations of D&D for better or worse.

R.A. Salvatore

Of course, as the creative writer and mastermind behind the lore of the Neverwinter series, R.A. Salvatore was present at the party. This offered the unique opportunity to meet one of the most well-known writers of the fantasy genre. I don't know how many other times the chance to sit down and chat with Salvatore for hours would present itself. As an avid reader, especially of the fantasy and sci-fi genre, this was a great moment.

As you can see, events such as the D&D and Neverwinter Party offer something not found on the PAX East Expo Hall floor. While this event was invite-only, they often keep a few extra spots for fans from the show floor. So remember, it's HIGHLY recommended that if you see something great on the show floor ask if they are having a party. I really enjoyed this party and the intimate atmosphere allowed me to really enjoy everything offered - something a more crowded and loud event would not be able to do. It was also a great place to meet new people and make friends. The people at D&D and Neverwinter have just made a constant attendee of their future parties and I can't wait for another one, hopefully next year at PAX East 2014.