Gaming in Education with TEALS [Pixelkin]

Read the full article at Pixelkin

Computer Science is a vastly under served industry. Given how interconnected technology has become, all industries are looking at the next generation of workers to be well versed in Computer Science and engineering.

An organization called TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) works at the high school level to provide tech-savvy volunteers, curriculum for teachers, and computer lab lesson plans. The goal is to empower teachers and schools to provide Intro level Computer Science courses to prepare young people for an increasingly tech-focused world. And they do it using video games.


Hyper Universe Could Be the Next Big MOBA [Pixelkin]

Read the full preview at Pixelkin

Hyper Universe took up a sizable portion of the show floor at PAX South 2017. After playing the game it more than earned its prominent spot at the front of the expo hall.

Hyper Universe is a colorful, side-scrolling MOBA developed by Korean designers Cwavesoft and published by Nexon. MOBAs, those Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas have exploded in popularity thanks to popular esports games like League of Legends and DOTA 2. MOBAs now come in all shapes and sizes. Hyper Universe carves a unique niche by combining the look and feel of a 2D platformer or fighting game spread out over a single, massive level.


PAX South Preview: Has-Been Heroes [Pixelkin]

Read the full preview at Pixelkin

Despite gaming’s large and often confusing list of genres and sub-genres, Has-Been Heroes is a tricky game to peg. It notably draws from side-scrolling Beat ‘Em Ups, tower defense and rogue-like RPGs to create a highly replayable adventure with its own unique rhythm.

In Has-Been Heroes you play as the old veterans of a typical RPG. With the big bad defeated and the world relatively safe, your task these days is to simply escort the young princesses to school. Unfortunately the lands aren’t quite as safe as you thought.


PAX South: 20 Great Games to Look For In 2017 [Pixelkin]

Read the full list at Pixelkin

PAX South 2017 hosted a large expo hall full of tabletop and video games, from wonderfully obscure indie titles to the large spectacle of the Nintendo and Capcom booths. I saw and played as many games as I possibly could over the weekend, and met with some amazing developers.

I didn’t get a chance to see everything that the convention had to offer. But here’s my list of 20 promising games you’ll want to look for this year.


Earthfall Could Be Left 4 Dead 3 With Aliens [Pixelkin]

Read the full PAX South preview at Pixelkin

PAX South 2017 featured gigantic alien statues beckoning newcomers to check out HoloSpark’s upcoming cooperative first-person shooter Earthfall. Earthfall draws heavily from Valve’s Left 4 Dead series, and aims to fill the co-op void left behind after Left 4 Dead 2 released back in 2009.

“I’ve been banging on my buddy at Valve for two years to make Left 4 Dead 3!” laughs Russell Williams, CEO of HoloSpark. “I love PvE. It’s much less stressful to play as the heroes where you’re not getting shot in the head half the time.”


My PAX South 2017 Experience

I had my second ever PAX experience with this year’s PAX South in San Antonio, Texas. The convention center was newly remodeled (and half under construction), the show was full of indie and large developers across video gaming and tabletop, and once again I had a fun mix of business and pleasure as I interviewed developers, played upcoming games, and hung out with long-distance friends as we met up at PAX.

It was an amazing weekend. Stay tuned here or on my social media channels for all my published content coming out of PAX South. What follows here is my personal account of my experience.

Day 0

This year my mom was able to babysit my kiddo and house full of dogs and cats to allow my wife to come with me. We arrived in San Antonio early on Thursday and got to do some fun tourist stuff, like checking out the Alamo and walking around the Riverwalk and Rivercenter Mall.

Pax South 2017

PAX South 2017

PAX South 2017

We also went up to the top of the Tower of the Americas to get an evening view of the city.

PAX South 2017

PAX South 2017

We never get a date trip like this. Even though it was just the day, it was a lot of fun!

PAX South 2017

Dinner: Luciano

Day 1

This year they pushed the opening of the convention back an hour. Not only did this make mornings much easier, but it gave me a chance to jump in with the Early Media Access on Friday, which began at 9.

I set up an appointment in a private meeting room for the Nintendo Switch, which lasted over an hour. You can read my takeaway from the Switch and upcoming Nintendo games like Zelda here.

PAX South 2017I wanted to play more Zelda but I ran (literally) across the hall to where my friends had saved a seat for Chris Perkins’ key note speech. I’m a big fan of D&D and Acquisitions Incorporated and wanted to see his speech. It did not disappoint!

I had a bit of time afterward to jump into the expo hall. We sat down and tried Random Encounters, one of the games in the Tabletop Indie Showcase. It was a Kickstarter game from a year ago, and the devs were super friendly and engaging. The co-op dungeon crawler was a blast, and I ended up purchasing it later that day.

PAX South 2017

PAX South 2017

After a quick lunch I had a full day of appointments, from 12:30 to 6! It was incredibly exhausting but I saw a ton of great games (and not so great ones) and talked to some awesome people.

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I was super tired and ready for dinner, but my friends (whom I hadn’t really seen all day at that point) were in line for the True Dungeon experience. I went up to the 3rd floor to join them.

The whole thing took over an hour but it was a neat demo of the full multi-hour experience they run at GenCon.

PAX South 2017

It’s basically a crazy mix of LARP and Escape the Room, complete with character sheets and animatronics. Impressive, though we were rushed through the two rooms. Pretty sure the wait took longer than the actual event!

We met up with even more friends and had dinner at Maria Mia near the Rivercenter Mall (and right next door to Luciano). At that point our group had swelled to 7 plus a newborn!

Afterward we went back to the convention center. But after True Dungeon and a big dinner it was late by the time we got back. We tried playing some board games but Zombicide ended up being a slog.

PAX South 2017

Note to self – don’t play a big board game that no one’s played before after an exhausting day!

Dinner: Maria Mia

Day 2

Saturday was easily my favorite day of the convention, despite the noticeable surge in crowds.

PAX South 2017I set up my appointments in the morning specifically with multiplayer games in mind so I could try and keep my wife and friends with me, knowing we would probably all separate on Friday (which we did).

Both Earthfall and Hyper Universe ended up being some of my favorite games of the convention, and it was a blast getting to play them with friends. The devs were super forthcoming and fun to talk to and the games were a lot of fun.

I wish I would have had more time with both, but I had scheduled myself very tight to see as much as possible.

PAX South 2017

After that we started to separate again. My wife jumped in line for Acquisitions Incorporated (she’s an even bigger fan than me) while I checked out a number of indie games, including the very nice-looking Mages of Mystralia.

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Eventually I grabbed lunch and joined up with the Acquisitions Inc crowd. This was total “me” time as we sat and watched the full three hour live show. It was incredible, and definitely my favorite part of the whole convention. It was the first time they did it at PAX South and I hope it becomes a new trend.

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That took up the rest of the afternoon. We wandered around the expo hall for a bit, then went out for dinner. We eventually decided on a BBQ place on the river.

Since we’d gotten out earlier than yesterday, we went back to the hotel to FaceTime with our daughter and change. Then it was back to the convention center.

After last night’s experience I knew not to grab a new game and try to figure it out. Instead I whipped out my newly purchased copy of Random Encounters and we played a fun four player game, which took up the rest of the evening.

Dinner: Lone Star Café

Day 3

Last year I spent the final day just wandering around freely trying games I hadn’t gotten a chance to try yet – especially board games.

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Acquisitions Inc took up a large block of time on Saturday, so I still had several media appointments scheduled on Sunday.

I met with Games Lab and played Final War, a fun tactical card game that combined PvE and PvP battling. It released in Australia last year and is coming to the U.S. this week!

PAX South 2017 PAX South 2017

I also met with Daedalic and Northstar Games, played more games and met more awesome developers and marketing folks.

I found I actually preferred talking to people to playing the games themselves, especially with the time it takes to play most board games. Never enough time!

At one point I swung by the permanently crowded Nintendo booth. I was able to jump in and play Splatoon 2, the only game that wasn’t available in my meeting.

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On Sunday I also went to my only panel I attended at the con, which looked at using games as a teaching tool for education. Look for my recap of the panel on Pixelkin soon.

The convention shuts down at 6pm. We had checked out of our hotel that morning and parked in a nearby lot. So we jumped in our cars and ate at the one place everyone says to eat in San Antonio – Mi Tierra. Fantastic Mexican restaurant – would eat again!

Dinner: Mi Tierra

And that’s it! Another year, another PAX South in the books. It was an amazing experience. I’m extremely fortunate that I can combine business and pleasure in this unique way, made even more fun that all my friends meet up there (all of whom live hundreds of miles, and one several states away).

See you next year, San Antonio!

PAX South 2017

PAX South: Hands-On With Nintendo Switch [Pixelkin]

Read the full article on Pixelkin

Nintendo was in full force at PAX South last weekend. A large, permanently crowded booth stood near the front of the show floor. You could wait in line for hours to play half a dozen titles for the newly announced Nintendo Switch. The marquee title, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, had its own roped off section within the booth area. That was a separate line that filled up instantly, creating a three hour wait to play the 20 minute demo throughout the weekend.

Thankfully I got a chance to meet privately with Nintendo and get some quality time with the Switch.