The Burrs And Barbs
Now that I can see time does, in fact, continue - even after events of such magnitude that they warp space-time - I can start being excited about the games that find their way to stores. Pikmin 2 is just such a game - also, people in the second Q&A panel asked for a “watch” strip, and we have done as commanded.
Today, we’re going to talk about the Omegathon.
There are going to be some things about it that change next year, but they’re the things that are going to change for every console or PC event: exclusive areas, far from the Free Play caverns packed with people, reserved in an absolute way for tournaments and Omegathon events. There will also be seating reserved for people to watch each event, because just as I had hoped, many people came to check out each round - each Omeganaut had their own coterie to be sure, but above and beyond that attendees flocked. I feel a little guilty because the contestants really were at our whim almost the entire convention. They were the guinea pigs for a kind of gaming reality show that didn’t always run as smoothly as it could. Hopefully they enjoyed their run at the Omega Collection, but let me make something perfectly clear: simply being the gatekeeper to a hoard like that is exhilarating. I can’t even envision what it must have been like for Josh Eash of Garrison Titan - eliminated in the penultimate round, on the precipice of such obscene wealth.
Something needs to be said right away: The people that we chose as contestants were more than we could have dreamed of. They were taking each other out to lunch after every elimination. They’re better than I would have been in their place. I came down to the Tabletop area a little later the first day, and there was a group of four of them still playing Diceland. I thought, Yes. These are the people I want in this thing.
My favorite moment - at least, before the final round, which is rich with favorite moments - was probably in Double Dash, where Tina Clifton and Svetlana Tchistiakova (chee-steeya-ko-va) snared one of the unlikely victories that virtually defines the game. Twelve players left, co-operative racing mode, the last two cars - four people - get dropped. They had been fighting for fourth place with another car for three entire laps, when they grabbed a star coming up the last stairs on Daisy Cruiser and went on to the next round. The place Goddamn exploded.
You might have already heard that the secret game was indeed Pong, as many of you surmised. As I told Kevin Potter when he asked me about the secret game backstage, it is a challenge that draws upon primal gaming skills. As it turns out, it is also a challenge to make that piece of shit work at all, but that’s another story altogether - the machine is literally an artifact, you can see pictures of it here. In the machine dwells a genie who makes the most ridiculous demands for even baseline functionality. Something we were not initially aware of when we chose it was that it is almost the perfect spectator sport. Every point was accompanied by a deafening roar. Sean Celaya took the first two games, becoming Omeganaut Prime and claiming the ultimate collection. Kevin grabbed a five hundred dollar gift certificate to EB, which is good for him, because this holiday season is going to be one of the most expensive in memory.
You might even have heard of the “Bonus Round,” which involved the proposal of a young man to a girl he had met at our first convention ever. I have this shit on a DVD and it cranks up the waterworks every time.
One of the great things about PAX in general (and the Omegathon in particular) has been mentally combing the experience to determine which events have iterated and are gone, and which ones become traditions. 1980’s fight music is a keeper, we think. Secret games are “go,” and so on. Essentially what we wanted to do was create the preconditions for a kind of theatrical gaming presentation, something with a high level of melodrama that you could simply enjoy if you wanted to without having to be better or smarter than it is. It is fun to be in the crowd when things happen on stage. And, something I just found out, it is also fun to emerge from backstage when the drums kick in on Europe’s The Final Countdown.
there is no happy ever after magic wand