Massively's guide to PAX 2011

PAX 2011: Massively's guide
What can be said about PAX Prime in Seattle, Washington that hasn't been said already? Everyone knows that it is the largest public gaming event in North America. Attendance totaled 67,600 last year, not including press and exhibitors. And this year, even more gamers will descend on the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. The latest and greatest games -- released and unreleased -- will be available for public consumption. Developers will mill around the showroom floor, answering your questions. Not to mention that no one will look at you funny because you play video games!

This year, MMORPGs really stand out in the crowd. Seattle native NCsoft has a huge presence at the convention, borrowing a theater just to showcase its games. BioWare comes armed with its heavy-hitter, Star Wars: The Old Republic. And free-to-play titles like Firefall, Lord of the Rings Online, and Wakfu promise to strut their stuff at this year's PAX.

Punch past the break as Massively outlines the must-see booths for MMO fans. And don't forget the panels, including a couple of MMO spotlights for PAX Dev, the gathering of fans and developers at Sheraton Seattle Hotel on the 24th and 25th.

PAX: Hottest Tickets
NCsoft -- Guild Wars 2, WildStar, and City of Heroes Freedom

The biggest contender at PAX this year has to be NCsoft. The premiere title is, of course, Guild Wars 2. The team at ArenaNet promises to have 20 stations at booth 442, where visitors can play one of seven professions as Sylvari or Asura. On top of that, the Logitech booth 1340 will house 10 playable stations of its own featuring Guild Wars 2. We're not done yet! The Alienware booth 3203 brings Guild Wars 2 PvP to the convention. Visitors will get a chance to face off against developers in matches hosted at the extremely loud booth five different times over the weekend:
  • Friday, August 26th, 2011 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 27th, 2011 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 3 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, August 28th, 2011 from 1:30 to 3 p.m.
If that isn't enough NCsoft for you, Carbine Studios takes over NCsoft booth 642 with WildStar! Demos of the hot-off-the-presses title will hit the United States for the very first time. Lastly, Paragon Studios and PC manufacturer Antec team up to show PAX attendees City of Heroes Freedom and also give you a chance to win a specially designed NCsoft PC.

BioWare -- Star Wars: The Old Republic

If Gamescom is any indication of what The Old Republic has to offer, then PAX attendees are in for a treat. Not only will the always-present origin worlds be available at the BioWare's booth (914), but the general public will have a chance to engage in a PvP Warzone. On the official site, developers announced that Alderaan will definitely be available. However, Gamescom attendees also battled in the newly announced Warzone Huttball. At very least, Lead Writer Daniel Erickson said he's coming to the show -- ask him anything you want.

Red 5 Studios -- Firefall

The developers at Red 5 tell us that Firefall will launch this year! This may be your last chance to touch the game before the rest of the world does. Red 5 nabbed four booths (3103, 3017, 3117, and 3217) on the showroom floor just so everyone who wants a chance at this third-person shooter gets it. Although this game sells itself as a co-op game, it has more MMO features than some games that are classified as MMOs. If you've been looking for a third-person shooter with a persistent world, you will want to stop by this booth to give the game a go.

PAX: MMO Exhibitors
PAX Prime: MMO MapTrion Worlds (652 and 662): Although RIFT is the premier game for the developer and is likely to make an appearance at the show, Trion's MMORTS End of Nations and Defiance will likely be the showcases for PAX.

CCP Games (422): Console MMO DUST 514 has to be the highlight for the studio this year. However, don't be surprised if EVE Online makes an appearance, too.

Hi-Rez Studios (252): The once-indie studio proudly announced that all of its free-to-play titles will be available to play, including Global Agenda and the MOBA SMITE.

Wargaming.net (3546): The folks at Wargaming.net may jokingly call World of Tanks a "boy's game," but how about World of Warplanes?

Turbine (932): Hopefully, Turbine is there to show off its Lord of the Rings: Rise of Isengard expansion and maybe a little Dungeons and Dragons Online.

Riot Games (3433): League of Legends ran for about a year with only two maps, but now Riot wants to show off something new for the LoL fan.

Perfect World Entertainment (842): Cell-shaded action-MMO Rusty Hearts will take center stage at this MMO developer's booth.

Square Enix (3546): Although it's doubtful that either of the Final Fantasy MMOs will show up here, Square did promise to have Wakfu!

Electronic Arts (3603, 3609, and 3617): The Secret World will be at PAX, showing off a demo of one of the game's dungeons. The game is a mystery wrapped inside an enigma wrapped in a slice of cheese...

PAX: MMO Panels
PAX Dev

Getting Audio In and Mixed: How to Get the Time You Need

Willow, Thursday 5:15 to 6:15 p.m., with Tom Smurdon [Audio Director, Airtight Games], Chase Combs [Sound Designer - Turn 10, Microsoft / Contractor], Mike Caviezel [Audio Production Director at Microsoft Games Studios, Microsoft], Jay Weinland [Audio Lead, Bungie], Drew Cady [Sound Designer, ArenaNet]

State of the Craft: Art in Games
Willow, Thursday 10:15 to 11:15 a.m., with Thomas Holt [Art Director, FlashFlood Games], Steve Theodore [Technical Director, Undead Labs], Harry Teasley [Art Director, Turbine Games], Daniel Dociu [Art Director, ArenaNet]

PAX Prime, NCSoft Presentation Theatre

NCsoft Panel about WildStar

Friday 10:00 to 10:45 a.m., Saturday 1 to 1:45 p.m.: Panel Presentation by Carbine Studios Staff

NCsoft WildStar Demo
Friday 1:00 to 1:45 p.m., Saturday 5:30 to 6:15 p.m., Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.: Panel Presentation by Carbine Studios Staff

The Guild Wars Live Game: From Inception to Live Update
Friday 2:30 to 3:15 p.m., with John Stumme [Lead Designer, ArenaNet], Robert Gee [Designer, ArenaNet], Andrew Patrick [Designer, ArenaNet], Joe Kimmes [Programmer, ArenaNet], Zack Nickerson [QA, ArenaNet], John Forman [QA, ArenaNet]

The Art of City of Heroes Freedom
Friday 4 to 4:45 p.m., with Matt "Positron" Miller [Paragon], Gilbert "El Topo" Martinez [Paragon], Nate "Second Measure" Birkholz [Paragon]

The ArenaNet Community Team
Friday 5:30 to 6:15 p.m., with Martin Kerstein [Community, ArenaNet], Regina Buenaobra [Community, ArenaNet], and Stéphane Lo Presti [Community, ArenaNet]

ArenaNet Artists Review Your Portfolio
Saturday 10 to 10:45 a.m.: ArenaNet artists will be on hand to review portfolios that include 2-D and 3-D art. Bring your best work!

City of Heroes Freedom is the Future!
Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., with Matt "Positron" Miller [Paragon], Gilbert "El Topo" Martinez [Paragon], Nate "Second Measure" Birkholz [Paragon]

Goddess of Destruction: First Look
Saturday 2:30 to 3:15 p.m.: Be one of the first to experience Lineage II: Goddess of Destruction before it releases this fall. All attendees will receive a 6-inch plushie and 30 free days of Lineage II: High Five as a thank-you gift.

Character Art in Guild Wars 2: Creation and Iteration
Saturday 4 to 4:45 p.m., with Kristen Perry [Character Artist, ArenaNet] and other ArenaNet artist

Supporting the Communities Within the Community
Sunday 10 to 10:45 a.m., with Regina Buenaobra [ArenaNet], Martin Kerstein [ArenaNet], Andy Belford [Paragon], and Staff from Carbine Studios

Breathing Life into a World: The Lore and Writing of Guild Wars 2
Sunday 1 to 1:45 p.m., with Jeff Grubb [Designer, ArenaNet], Ree Soesbee [Designer, ArenaNet], Sean Ferguson [Writer, ArenaNet], and Scott McGough [Writer, ArenaNet]

ArenaNet Artists Review Your Portfolio
Sunday 2:30 to 3:15 p.m.: ArenaNet artists will be on hand to review portfolios that include 2-D and 3-D art. Bring your best work!

Guild Wars 2: Designing Dynamic Systems and Content
Sunday 4 to 4:45 p.m., with Isaiah Cartwright [Systems Designer, ArenaNet], Jon Peters [Systems Designer, ArenaNet], Colin Johanson [Content Designer, ArenaNet], and Eric Flannum [Lead Designer, ArenaNet]

Writers' Round Table: You Want to Be a Game Writer? What're You, Nuts?
Sunday 5:30 to 6:15 p.m., with John Hegner [Writer, Paragon Studios], Bobby Stein [Writer, ArenaNet], and writers from Carbine Studios

PAX Prime, other theaters

The Agony and Ecstasy of RPG Writing
Kraken Theatre, Saturday 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., with John Gonzales [Writer, Warner Bros], Travis Stout [Writer/Designer, Obsidian Entertainment], Annie VanderMeer Mitsoda [Content Designer, ArenaNet], Brian Mitsoda [Creative Director, DoubleBear Productions], Jeff Grub

Guild Wars 2: Designing a Cooperative Experience
Pegasus Theatre, Saturday 1 to 2 p.m., with Eric Flannum [Lead Designer, ArenaNet], Colin Johanson [Lead Content, ArenaNet]

Behind the Scenes with League of Legends: Dominion
Serpent Theatre, Saturday 3 to 4 p.m., with Travis George [Producer, Riot Games], Richard Hough [Designer, Riot Games]

BioWare Mythic - Warhammer: Wrath of Heroes
Pegasus Theatre, Saturday 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Flying a Pride Flag
Serpent Theatre, Saturday 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., with Link Hughes [Game Designer, CCP Games]

Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Force is Strong with This One
Main Theatre, Sunday 2 to 3 p.m.: Expect new reveals, exclusive gameplay footage, and a Q&A with attendees.

Massively's on the ground in Seattle during the weekend of August 26-28, bringing you all the best news from PAX Prime 2011. Whether you're dying to know more about SWTOR, Guild Wars 2, City of Heroes, or any MMO in between, you can bet we'll have it covered!

This article was originally published on Massively.