The Day Before E3:
From inspiration, to procrastination, to implementation, to anticipation, to action; an unusual path for me in acting on any project. I never have trouble boarding the train at the station, but inevitably I ask for an early exit long before reaching any ultimate or useful destination. And so, as I believe IÃ‚'ve mentioned before, the undertaking of a trip to E3 was a lovely idea last year when it was first conceived, but it seemed all too unlikely. And yet, here I sit some several miles above the impenetrable flatness of Nebraska drifting on metal wings toward the West Coast.
Certis is also on this plane, though our initial plan of trading barbs to pass the time and miles has fallen through. Or rather, I sabotaged it. ItÃ‚'s nothing personal, I assure you, but when it came down to loyalty or comfort I chose the more base, and so I sit content in the great expanse of an exit row while he languishes toward the back of the plane. I hear the occasional squall of a distressed child from his section of the flight over the dulcet voices of my nearby friendly travelers who have not once broken into sudden violent tantrum. I do not regret my choice one bit.
It is an odd thing first meeting someone with whom youÃ‚'ve had some kind of relationship for going on two years. There is a strange disjointed element between the oddity of ascribing a body to what has, until now, been words on a computer screen, and the familiarity of the personality within that person. ItÃ‚'s hard to even put a first impression on that sort of thing, because it is at once unusual and perfectly normal. ItÃ‚'s not like I can just picture him as a box on a screen anymore, now heÃ‚'s corporeal, substantive, and crammed into a seat some dozen yards behind me. ItÃ‚'s really quite strange.
And yet, we managed to be quite peaceable toward one another for nearly an hour already, not having had the impetus to act either in a violent nor offensive manner. ItÃ‚'s easier for me, of course, because IÃ‚'m a much taller man than he, and so itÃ‚'s understood that I could kick his ass from one end of the plane to the other. And yet, even as I write that, and prepare to post it, I know now that I have a person to answer to for my irresponsibly cavalier commentary. Not that IÃ‚'m worried, itÃ‚'s just kind of weird.
I have the sense that the strangeness will pass soon enough, probably about the time we arrive to meet Pyro and Sway who will introduce an entirely new level to the absurdity of it all, and we can all pass neatly into the kind of surrealism I suspect will just make everyone much more comfortable. And with that, we will deliver to you, from LA, our perspectives on the conference.
A child is squalling at the back of the plane, and as I stretch all six foot four of me comfortably across this gulf of a row, I donÃ‚'t hesitate to feel completely satisfied in my seat change.
Naturally the child reminds me of my own son, not so much because of the crying, but because the crying reminds me how much more fantastic my boy is than everyone elseÃ‚'s. Certis was actually the first to point out that this will be, by far, the longest IÃ‚'ve gone without being beside my son since his birth. Because I know Elysia will be looking at these journals over the week, I hope you will pardon me for participating in a moment of completely personal commentary: you were right, I do miss him more than I thought.
Everyone else can gag now, and weÃ‚'ll move on again together, shall we?
The flight ended after a number of hours that passed easily for me. I had a friendly conversation with a young lady who looked vaguely like Carrie Anne Moss. Between friendly banter, and some occasional light reading the time flew [sic] by. Certis, however, enjoyed the company of a man who snored. Again, I do not regret my choices.
Pyro and Sway were waiting at the hotel when we arrived and after a few moments of stilted small talk in which we resolved the issue of our all being both real and fleshy, we proceeded to the room. After some degree of conversation on the matter we all agreed that the entire night would be better facilitated by some food followed by alcoholic beverages. This proved a sage decision.
Mexican food was eaten, and so in kind we purchased twelve packs of Dos Equis and Corona.The results of a dangerous gastric mingling are best left unspoken, as are the details revolving around a disturbing game of Hearts. At some point weÃ‚'ll talk about it, but now is neither the time now place. Thwarted by some draconian theft prevention devices on the hotel television we were unable even to play the Gamecube brought by Sway. There was some brief talk about Sway purchasing a television specifically for the Gamecube and then trying to return it later, but so far no action has been taken. WhatÃ‚'s important is that we seem a compatible enough group even in the most frustrating situation of having no gaming options to pass the time.
Los Angeles itself is the fifth wheel of our strange group, and is perhaps the strangest of all. Here in Westwood where we have taken up temporary residence, nobody drives cars of lower stature than BMWs and Mercedes. Why they even drive these cars remains a mystery to me as there is absolutely no available parking within several hundred miles. ItÃ‚'s bizarre that in this technologically complex metropolis the best way to get from one point to the other may very well be to just hoof it. This is some information I might have preferred to know earlier.
Much of the night was spent noting that it was much later in our native time zones, and making disturbing out of context remarks that simply are best left undocumented. Corona does strange things to four gamers in a hotel room the night before E3.
Strange things indeed.
E3: Day One
Ã‚"If big were blue, it would be very very blue.Ã‚" SwayÃ‚'s description of E3
After day one of E3 my perspective is even more strained and twisted than it was just last night, and thatÃ‚'s saying something. Today has been a cavalcade of moments that startled and amazed me within the cacophony of the E3 floor. ItÃ‚'s a dizzying mind bending display, where never ending sound assails you from all sides. Describing it so freshly in my memory is not an easy task, waves of people, a constant swarm of noise and light, and the omnipresent number of closed doors for VIP access that never ceases to remind us that weÃ‚'re barely of worth enough to walk among the throng.
It was a surprising pleasure to get direct contact with the gents and ladies making the games I will most certainly come to play. Although, they were already hollow eyed and speaking a monotone rhetoric by the end of the first day, they were pleasant enough and happy to tell me that they didnÃ‚'t have the answers to my questions. Today was widely about getting a feel for the floor, taking in the big games and announcements, and tasting everything as though from a giant digital buffet, whereas tomorrow will be more about spending time with individual titles.
ThatÃ‚'s not to say I didnÃ‚'t get a good look at a few choice titles.We sat in on a Half-Life 2 demo, and though it would be well and good to be jaded and skeptical about ValveÃ‚'s offering, I just canÃ‚'t do it. I still want it bad, maybe worse because it feels tangible and near. There was some footage of Counter-Strike delivered via the Source engine, but it wasnÃ‚'t nearly as notable as some might make of it. We also got some time in on Tribes 3, and thatÃ‚'s looking quite promising, seeking to revisit what made the franchise notable in the first place.
Additionally, I got to chat with one of the developers working on the latest Madden, and after some play time color me stoked. The guy I talked with happened to be working on the element IÃ‚'m most interested in, namely the numerous enhancements to MaddenÃ‚'s franchise mode. Finally youÃ‚'ll be able put draft positions on the table when wheeling and dealing trades, an addition IÃ‚'ve long desired. Additionally, individual players will have personalities that directly affect their performance and even their desire to stay with the team or leave. That means that if T.O. doesnÃ‚'t get enough catches, maybe T.O. doesnÃ‚'t play as hard next game, or even demands to be traded. The main focus this year is turned onto defense, including the addition of a Ã‚"˜hit stickÃ‚' where you can tweak the controller and increase the power and accuracy of your tackles.
At some point Certis will point out his last minute 2 point conversion for a win. I ask that you ignore him.
I spent twenty minutes talking to a developer Ã‚– one of the nameless many I spoke to Ã‚– about Peter MolyneuxÃ‚'s latest effort, The Movies, and for a pre-alpha build I found myself quite impressed. LionheadÃ‚'s latest effort looks to be innovative, and flush with level upon level of customization. More than just a movie making simulation, Lionhead seems to have spent quality time taking an original idea and actually making a fun game out of it. You can spend as little or much time as you want crafting individual movies in between managing staff, sets, and stars. For those with the time and inclination you can even put your own spoken voice scripts and MP3 soundtracks into your movie, and then export those movies to share with friends if you have the kind of friends dying to see your homemade video game movies.
I will leave it to Certis to describe at some point precisely why he returned from a demonstration of Rome: Total War giggling like a school girl, and exactly how tingly he felt getting fifteen minutes of quality time with Warren Spector. Though, you can imagine our enthusiasm when Spector confirmed to us that Deus Ex 3 was to be made, and that he would be much more deeply involved with the next version.
Thief looked mighty good, but I was not used to the controls and wandered aimlessly into the sight of some random guard who chased me down and cut me but deep. This wouldnÃ‚'t be particularly notable were it not for Warren Spector barking orders at me about what I should have been doing, and with the implied concern that I was playing his game wrong. IÃ‚'ll say this for the game god, he has great enthusiasm for his game, and I swear Warren, IÃ‚'ll never make that mistake again!
I guess I should say something about the Phantom, so let me say this. Just because you brought a box to the show doesnÃ‚'t make you the belle of the ball. The more I saw of the Phantom the more I found the concerns IÃ‚'d always held about the system justified. It still seems like a bad idea, with a mediocre implementation, and an unnecessary addition of a fee to buying games. You canÃ‚'t play the games you download unless youÃ‚'re connected to the service. New games will cost essentially the same as if you just bought them in the store, except that you wonÃ‚'t actually have any reasonable possession of them, and you get to pay a fee. The demo units had strange graphical flicker issues, and we saw at least one blue screen of death in our short stay at InfiniumÃ‚'s booth. The only thing we really got definitively from them was a release date for the system. I donÃ‚'t recall off hand what that date was, I didnÃ‚'t bother to write it down.
But, letÃ‚'s not dwell on the bad. The big event of the show for me today had to be the pleasant surprise that was NintendoÃ‚'s showing. I may just have to get a Gamecube after all. Metroid Prime 2, Advanced Wars Underfire, Paper Mario 2, Resident Evil 4, Pikmin 2, and Starfox just to name a few. Nintendo came to the show with some big guns, and did what Nintendo does best: placed a premium on quality above quantity. While SonyÃ‚'s booth certainly had more games, my first impression is that Nintendo had the best showing of the big three.
What I can tell you is that my feet hurt, my head is a little swimmy, and my eyes feel like theyÃ‚'re covered in cat fur. ItÃ‚'s a heady experience, and IÃ‚'m looking forward to day two, but the above is about as coherent and cogent a series of thoughts as I can form at this time. ThereÃ‚'s also the constant pressure from Sway and Certis to go downstairs and drink instead of writing content for the site. ItÃ‚'s starting to sound look a good idea.
A very good idea.