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The Harmonix PAX East Survival Guide of 2015

Hey everybody! PAX East is on its way, and it's coming up fast! We couldn't be more excited for this year's shenanigans, but it’s also important to consider all of the amazing event-goers who will attend PAX East this March. It's time to bust out our handy dandy survival guide to make sure everyone gets through Boston, the weather, the traffic, and most importantly, the convention itself. So let's get started!

Harmonix has a Booth this Year!

That's right, our paragraph titles don't lie. Harmonix will be on the convention floor this year to demo our awesome games! This is the first time we've had a booth space at PAX for almost two years! We've got Amplitude ready for both solo and multiplayer action, as well as our Steam shoot-em-up game, A City Sleeps. This is also the first time we will showcase our secret Music Visualizer (VR) project publically on the show floor. We may even have a few surprises in our booth as well, but you’ll have to come by and see for yourself.

We're located on the main floor near the food vendors and tabletop gaming: Booth #4224 to be exact. Check out this graphic of the show floor for reference!


Awesome people. Awesome panels.

Members of the Harmonix Community will also be around presenting as speakers for some of PAX's great panels lined up for the weekend. For a list of ALL panels and speakers at PAX East this year, check out this link:

Here are our panels, in chronological order:

I. A Bunch of Dads
Friday, March 6th at Noon in the Bumblebee Theatre

Featured Speakers:

  • Will Smith [Editor, Tested]
  • Vinny Caravella [Video Duder, Giant Bomb]
  • Rich Gallup [Executive Producer, Disruptor Beam]
  • Dave Snider [Owner, Webhook]
  • Eric Pope [Producer, Harmonix]
  • Gina Smith [Mom, Tested]

With more than 30 years of fathering experience between them, our panel of dads are undeniably experts. UNDENIABLY. Expect a live presentation of the A Bunch of Dads podcast, featuring Jeff Green, "Hardcore" Dave Snider, two-time dad Vinny Caravella, and Tested's Will Smith (not the actor). We'll also feature guest dads, shenanigans, and maybe even a mom or two.

II. What You Absolutely Must Do to Get Into the Games Industry
Friday, March 6th at 6:00pm in the Cuttlefish Theatre

Featured Speakers:

  • Benjamin Cavallari [Business Developer, Skreens/Global Mechanic]
  • Dave Bisceglia [Co-Founder/CEO, The Tap Lab]
  • Chris Foster [Senior Designer, Harmonix]
  • Damian Isla [Founder, Molasses Flood]
  • Caroline Murphy [Community Manager, Boston Indies]
  • Trevor Stricker [President, Disco Pixel]

In attempting to enter the game development industry, there are definitive things you must accomplish (and things to certainly avoid) to stand out from the crowd. The panelists will detail your strategy essentials for acquiring a job within the many facets of game development (with specific details on how to use your time wisely while here at PAX). “Do’s and Do Not’s” of networking combined with "How to balance your portfolio" will push you past the HR trap and onto the interview.

III. Second Quest! (That’ll be 99 Gold)
Friday, March 6th at 8:30pm in the Bobcat Theatre

Featured Speakers:

  • Ethan Miguel "NintendoGaymer" Scott [Chief Organizer & CEO, StreetPass Boston]
  • Jon Myers [Creative Director, Reactive Studios]
  • Trevor Stricker [President, Disco Pixel]
  • Alli Thresher [Designer, Harmonix]

All about bonus content! What are the best unlockables? What were some of the best hidden secrets & best surprises in gaming history? What about DLC & free-to-play; is it O.K. for developers & publishers to charge for the best bits? And what kinds of extras can help keep things fresh when it seems like everything’s been done?

Join us as a lineup of local Boston gamers & developers present a lively discussion of gaming extras!

IV. PAX East Panel Simulator 2015
Saturday, March 7th at Noon in the Bumblebee Theatre

Featured Speakers:

  • Will Brierly [Developer, Soda Drinker Pro (Snowrunner Productions)]
  • Chris Chung [Developer, Catlateral Damage (Firehose Games)]
  • Shawn Witt [Developer, Alien Makeout Simulator]
  • Armin Ibrisagic [Developer, Goat Simulator (Coffee Stain Studios)]
  • Ray Brierly [Developer, Soda Drinker Pro (Snowrunner Productions)]
  • Benjamin Taylor [Developer, Alien Makeout Simulator]

Games let us experience amazing things like being a goat, drinking a soda, making out with an alien, and being a cat standing on a computer. As technology has improved so have these realistic simulations giving us fine-tuned goat, soda, cat & makeout mechanics. In this panel the developers of Goat Simulator, Soda Drinker Pro, Catlateral Damage, and Alien Makeout Simulator will discuss the broad societal impacts of these simulations as well as the future of high quality simulations in gaming.

V. Industry Inclusivity: Games are the People Who Make Them
Saturday, March 7th at 12:30pm in the Arachnid Theatre

Featured Speakers:

  • Alex Scokel [Senior QA Tester, Ready at Dawn Studios]
  • Danielle DiFalco [Marketing and Production Artist, Game Show Network]
  • Cara Kelly [Producer, Harmonix Music Systems]
  • Cassandra Lease [Quality Assurance, Mobile Aware]
  • Dawn Rivers [Lighting Artist, Harmonix Music Systems]

Art reflects the life of its creator. A more diverse community of game makers results in a wider, more mature range of game experiences, which will invite a larger audience to our electronic party. Join developers to discuss their experiences in the industry, the extent to which the industry currently accepts diverse voices, how the industry can do better going forward, and how gamers and fans can help make games more inclusive. There's a ton of good in the industry; we can do better.

VI. More Video Game Wrestling Nonsense At… PAXAMANIA!
Sunday, March 8th at 10:30am in the Albatross Theatre

Featured Speakers:

  • Aaron Trites [Commentary, Harmonix]
  • Eric Pope [Commentary, Harmonix]

From the architects of the PAX Rumble comes the next step in e-sports entertainment: PAXAMANIA! An all-star assortment of games industry superstars, fan favorites as well as promising newcomers, will face off for fame, fortune, and Twitter bragging rights. Witness first hand the evolution of the PAX Rumble storylines, as developers and press battle it out across 3 different wrestling video games in 3 epic matches in a card SO stacked you'll tell your grandchildren about it.

Paxamania Art by Jack Mantykiewicz

VII. Is This The Real Life? - No Escape From Virtual Reality
Sunday, March 8th at 4:00pm in the Dragonfly Theatre

Featured Harmonix Speakers:

  • Dawn Rivers [Artist, Harmonix Music Systems]
  • Jon Carter [Creative Lead, Harmonix Music Systems]
  • Devon Newsom [Sound Designer, Alien Makeout Simulator + HMX]
  • Mark Sullivan [Programmer, Team Future - Black Hat Oculus + HMX]

Remember the first time you heard about virtual reality? Remember all of the crazy promises movies made about us being immersed in fantastical worlds, 3D graphical user interfaces, and digital versions of ourselves getting stuck in VR? Well our panel of VR experts certainly do! They're here to tell you how they're actively working to meet and exceed those expectations, creating a real future of virtual reality gaming!

VIII. Our PR and Communications Lead, Nick Chester, will be making an appearance at the Gearbox Panel on Sunday to discuss some special surprises for Harmonix and Gearbox fans! The panel will be at 10:30am in the Main Theatre. That's all we can say for now...but trust me, you don't want to miss this.

Additionally, some of our Harmonix folks will be out and about doing different things around the show! A Harmonix Photo Booth will be set up at the entrance to the convention center inside the main lobby before you hit the show floor. Come get your picture taken, hang out with the Harmonix crew and snag some free swag!

Brian Gibson, one of Harmonix’ artists, will be featuring a game at the indieMEGABOOTH titled Thumper, a rhythm violence game that combines both rhythm action with speed and physicality. The game is an IGF finalist this year as well as an experimental gameplay workshop 2015 selection. Read up about Thumper here, and don’t forget to stop by the booth!

And a member of our Community Team (spoiler alert: it’s me) has two other booths that will be on the show floor: Grimm Bros, creators of the successfully Kickstarted roguelike, Dragon Fin Soup, and Wander, a non-combat MMO, will be in attendance this year! Luckily, these guys are literally across the hall from each other, so head over to booths #11056 (Grimm Bros) and #11068 (Wander) to see some amazing indie games and their development progress!

PAX is exciting, sure, but what do I absolutely HAVE to see while I'm there?

Aside from the AMAZING stuff we'll be showing off at our booth, PAX is full of entertainment and activities to satisfy your schedule. I'm a big fan of the Handheld Console area, where anyone can melt in gigantic bean bags and play games with others using their handheld consoles. The PAX Concerts, happening every evening after the convention closes, are sure to entertain. For a list of performers this year, check out

On Sunday, one of our composers for Amplitude, James Landino, will be DJing on the MAGfest stage on Saturday night! You can catch him spinning some tunes from 10 to 11pm. Feel free to stop by and say hi! He might even fulfill an Amplitude request or two.

And don't forget about the PAX Omegathon! Every year, 20 games compete in a three-day elimination tournament throughout the PAX weekend. It all ends with a live championship match on the main stage during closing ceremonies on Sunday. The prizes are phenomenal, the final game is completely unexpected, and the excitement never ends. Our multiplayer rhythm game, Amplitude, will be featured as one of the games to be played in the Omegathon! Keep an eye and an ear out for Omegathon happenings throughout the convention!

So what happens after PAX?

The convention is cool and all, but what's going on around Boston AFTER the show? There's one obvious answer here: Harmonix's PAX East Party at the Hard Rock Cafe on Saturday night! Unfortunately, we are COMPLETELY sold out of available tickets! But we’re super excited to have fans come party with the creators of Rock Band, Dance Central, Amplitude, and Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved. If you already snagged a ticket, or if you’re one of our Amplitude backers at the VIP party tier, we’ll have live band karaoke, giveaways for all attendees, and we’ve got a few other surprises in store for you lucky fellows…!

For those that were unable to grab tickets to our party, there just so happens to be a Freezepop concert happening on the same night! This will be going on in the Main Theatre at the convention center, just two hours after PAX closes down the show floor for the day. Come on and see this awesome performance!

So what's Boston like anyway?

People from around the world will be making their way to the city of Boston for the big event of the weekend. We're here to give you some useful tips & tricks when navigating the city, the weather, and the convention happenings.

I. If there's anything you need to know about Boston, it's that New England weather is UNPREDICTABLE. Always check the forecast before leaving your house/hotel. The recent record breaking snowfall has made Boston chillier than normal, and very difficult to navigate, so be sure to give yourself additional time to get anywhere you need to go outside the convention center. Make sure to wear enough clothes outside so as not to freeze, but not too much to overheat during the show. Plus, it never hurts to pack a small umbrella for the day.

Aaron in the Snow Rockin' out in the snow!

II. Trying to navigate the ridiculous amount of one-ways and traffic jams? Our best advice - buy a T Pass for the weekend, make sure it's stocked up, and make your way to and from the convention via public transportation. The roads will be stuffed and parking is about as easy as perfecting "Green Grass and High Tides" by the Outlaws on Expert in the original Rock Band. Bus will be the next best option, but the T is ideal to get where you want to go in a reasonable amount of time. Plan accordingly for traffic and possible line service changes, and keep updated on all of this through

III. You've got enough cash to traverse the show floor, but aren't willing to spend all of your money on cheeseburgers and fries and wait on the convention center's crazy food lines. You're in luck! Boston has a local grilled cheese shop that goes by the name of Cheese Boy, located right inside South Station. They’ve got great portions of cheap eats and good food. There's a Flour bakery located across the street, which we won't mark down as cheap necessarily, but oh man is it delicious. KO Pies is a great meat pie eatery a little less than a mile away from the convention, and will not disappoint. And if you're looking to get your drink on, Drink is serving up some exquisite cocktails over on Congress Street.

IV. So what if you've got some extra time to visit other awesome sights around the city? Our top suggestions include:

  • The Institute of Contemporary Art: This museum is open Thursday and Friday until 9pm, and Saturday and Sunday until 5pm. And yes, they have parking. For tickets and current exhibitions, visit
  • The Museum of Fine Arts is right off of the Green Line by Northeastern University, and hosts a variety of collections and even has a blessed Buddhist temple INSIDE the museum! It's tucked inside, hidden to those who do not know the path to it. But once there, it is beautiful and breathtaking. Challenge yourself to find the temple when you go!
  • Across the street from the MFA is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which hosts a huge private collection and is all wrapped up inside an ancient mansion. It also happens to be the site of the largest art heist in all of history. Pretty neat!
  • Independent movie theaters like the Brattle Theatre (Harvard Square), the Coolidge Corner Theatre (Brighton), and the Somerville Theatre (Davis Square) might have some PAX-specific programming scheduled for the weekend.
  • Improv Boston is always a good time, and is run by former hosts of our regular Rock Band nights! They've got a great location right downstairs from Harmonix headquarters in Central Square, Cambridge! Check them out here:
  • Looking for some cool comic book shops? Comicazi in Davis Square has the most extensive trade paperback and back issue selection in the Boston area. Not to mention the tons of vintage toys, cards, and tabletop gaming items that range the entire gambit of rare and collectible stuff.


Suggestions from the Publishing Team:

Our publishing team member, Rebecca, says, "Take a trip across the river to Cambridge! Harvard Square! Get some bubble tea at the Boston Tea Stop (and mocha ice cream)! Then peruse the comics down the street at The Million Year Picnic."

Manager of Community Development Aaron Trites has an affinity for food, and suggests, "Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage in Harvard Square, Cambridge. Good burgers, and the best milkshakes in town. Red Bones in Davis Square, Somerville has great BBQ, pecan pies, and chocolate milk in mason jars. The North End in Boston has all the best Italian places. Mike's Pastry and Modern Pastry are both the go-to places for cakes, cannolis, and all things delicious in Boston. It's also right near the Old North Church where the famous 'one if by land, two if by sea' signal was made. History!"

So who's ready for PAX East!?

If you're ever at a loss for information during the convention, there is an awesome mobile application designed to keep you updated and informed about every day's events called GuideBook. This app also lets your create your own schedule from the panels and tournaments, so you never forget where you're supposed to be at any time. Check out the GuideBook for PAX East 2015 and download the app here:

So that's it! You're officially ready, armed with information and equipped with the best tips that only true Bostonians can offer to you. Get out there and ROCK the show, and don't forget to stop by and say hello to us Harmonix devs when you get there!

Game on!