Games Convention 2004 in Leipzig/Germany Ã‚– after attending the GC for the first time in 2003 (as reported here and here)
I was really looking forward to participating on the exhibitor side of
things. And unlike last year I was there for the whole 4 days. Settlers
V, Splinter Cell 3, Pro Evolution Soccer 4, Brothers in Arms, Halo 2,
Fable and many titles from smaller German and Eastern-European developers
were waiting for me. Oh I so would be playing them, have a fun time at
the show and only pretend I'm working.
And oh was I wrong.What's there to say if just spent four days at a gaming expo and didn't
make it to spend some quality time with a single game due to being
swamped with work? Not a lot, I guess. Of course, not having to say
anything substantial on a topic never kept me from talking or writing
about it. Bringing it to the highest level of incompetence there even
Best Game of Show: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Shadow of Chernobyl
THQ had GSC's highly anticipated F.P.S. (huh huh...) running at their
booth. Unfortunately, the singleplayer mode was not up to be tested as
it was all about deathmatch in a LAN consisting of four PCs. (No clue
if there was some other version available in the Business Center as I
didn't really have the time for appointments and the like.) The game
was performing very smoothly, although the textures were not as
detailed as they are on screenshots. The look and feel of the location
was great nonetheless and it certainly has the most beautiful sky
texture a game has featured so far. It seemed that you have to purchase
weapons on start-up and I only got to try out 2 or 3 of the guns within
the time I spent playing S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
Seeing how even this one deathmatch map had an eerie atmosphere to it I
can't wait for the SP experience the game might provide. That said, if
there's something one could complain about it's the point that the game
will not come out in the near future. Well, this and that one barrel I
shot but that wouldn't move.
Runner Up: Destroy All Humans
Worst Game of Show: Destroy All Humans
I guess by now you might have figured out that there were only two
games I actually had my hands on for more than 3 minutes. And only
because the THQ booth was right next to us. Nothing breath-taking to
report on though since they only had the E3 demo featured. Which turned
out to be rather unstable. Still, DAH was quite entertaining for the
time I played it, featuring an alien running around and blowing up
things like ... cows. Or lifting them via telekinesis. He/she/it could
also jump into his/her/its UFO and wreak some more havoc, leveling
buildings and zapping cars among other objects. Many elements appear to
be inspired by popcorn flicks made in the 50s.
All in all a funny game, but probably one you want to rent rather than
spending $50 on it since the novelty could wear off soon. Who knows,
maybe Destroy All Humans will prove to be a nice snack if you need a
break from playing They Came From Hollywood. Whenever that comes out.
Final remark: since I only really got to play two games at the Games
Convention and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. looked more appealing it automatically
makes the second best title the worst. Hereby justifying this award!
Best Singleplayer Game of Show: Destroy All Humans
The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. build didn't feature an SP mode.
Best Multiplayer Game of Show: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Shadow of Chernobyl
The other game I played was SP-only.
Best Sky Texture: *drumroll* S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Shadow of Chernobyl
Best/Worst Feature Not Mentioned On My ÃƒÅ“ber-Special Ticket: Super Secret Insider Information
Which basically means, you get to hear of and/or experience all kinds
of soap operas going on in the developers/publishing scene one may or
may not have wanted to know about.
Best 'Booth Babe': Bine (pronounced like Ã‚"BeenehÃ‚")
Now that sounds like a weird award coming from someone who isn't really
a fan of the 'booth babe' concept. Bine happened to work at our side of
the booth and really was a lovely, kind and fun person to chat with,
also occasionally bringing along something to drink or a snack for us.
Did I mention that she's a fan of ego shooters and plays Counter-Strike
among other things? (Greetings if you're reading this!)
That's not meant to say that the other guys and girls busy at the
booth were not fun to work with. No, the whole crew was great and
supportive and definitely made it easier to get through a day like Saturday when
the show was open from 10AM to 9PM.
Most Efficient Element to Ruin My Vocal Cords: a 6000W Sound
When I got to the GC area on Tuesday Ã‚– two days ahead of its opening Ã‚–
everything was still being built up in the four halls. Except for the
Electronic Arts booth which was already finished and being tested out,
filling Hall 3 with an enormous acoustical power. I already got used to
the idea of having to listen to their trailer music all through the
show - until I saw the 'stereo' BigBen/10T had set up on the next day.
10 meters away from our place. Let me just say that it's being usually
being 'unleashed' in discotheques with 10000 or more people. And the
other half of it Ã‚– another piece of 6000W equipment Ã‚– was still sitting
in some truck unused.
I guess had they built up the thing completely and turned it to the
max, seismologists in Japan would have been able to tell what kind of
music we got to hear in Leipzig. All I can say that even at its current
level I was unable to feel the vibration alert of the mobile phone in
my pocket thanks to the massive bass power. Oh you can picture the fun
it was to demo a game and yell at people when vibes like that rock the
surrounding space. Good thing they pulled off a great show though,
sound power pissing contest with the THQ booth inclusive.
Second Most Efficient Element to Ruin My Vocal Cords:
Oh they sure were. Still, a nice option to get to know some interesting
people. At one of them I also ran across the guys from Moon Byte.
They're still working on Crashday
and currently looking for a publisher. Quite a coincidence, good for me
though since they had no booth at the GC this year. Robert Clemens
stopped by at our booth on the next day, unfortunately none of us had a
notebook around, which is why I couldn't take a look at the latest
version of one of the games I've been keeping an eye on for almost 2
Gamer Gimmick of the Moment: Ideazon's Zboard
On the day before the opening of the GC I happened to meet Oren Kramer.
That name didn't really ring a bell for me Ã‚– same goes probably for
most of you. He turned out to be the inventor of the Zboard.
We sat down and talked for a bit and Oren pulled out his notebook and
the Zboard in order to demonstrate Ideazon's product. (Well, he was
preparing for a press conference anyway.)
I had heard of it before, but this was the first time I actually got to
try it out. Switching key sets is very easy and only takes a few
seconds. The standard key set did work quite well and assigning special
functions Ã‚– like going to your favourite website, opening a program or
a particular document - to the extra keys was a simple thing to do.
Just perform the action you want to be memorized and keep the button
you want it to be assigned to pressed for 2 seconds.
Based on the ads I got to see the Zboard seems to aim at hardcore
gamers who want to optimize their performance. Interestingly enough I'd
say it probably could be more helpful to people who are new to gaming
or a specific genre. The gaming key set layout is pretty clear and you
don't have to remap keys manually thanks to the company providing
frequent updates for new games unless you really want to configure the
setup on your own. Hardcore gamers may get a kick out of the point
though that the Zboard recognizes up to 7 keys pressed at once whereas
standard keyboards only handle up to 3 at a time.The two USB ports the
keyboard features don't hurt either.
There's also a number of dedicated key sets available for sale. More
key sets are going to be released in the future, covering games like
World of WarCraft or Everquest II among others. I personally wouldn't
buy one of these for a single game I'm not likely to play for very
long, but if a title/genre you're enjoying frequently and regularly is
being supported or if you're looking for a nice gift for someone who's
new to gaming, the Zboard may be worth a look.
Best Marketing Give-Away: Nokia's Balloon Stick Thingies
An expo such as the Games Convention, like anything else, proves that
people are willing to turn themselves into walking advertising pillars
as long as there's free stuff to grab. The best idea to be witnessed at
this year's show happened to be 'balloon stick thingies' Nokia provided
to promote the N-Gage. (Yes, they're actually still trying to do that.)
Amazing how many didn't seem to notice that they featured vents to
inflate/deflate that give-away. Which again means that they were
walking around with them instead of having them deflated and stuffed
into their huge ATI bags (Runner Up!) along with the 1 million ad flyers they're never going to take a look again anyway.
Well, that's it for this year. No less than 105,000 visitors attended
the Games Convention 2004. And while I had to face a nice amount of
work, it was a worthwhile trip nonetheless thanks to the people I had
the pleasure to work with. Hint for those Euros who ponder attending
next year: avoid coming on Saturday Ã‚– or at least make sure it'll not
be the only day you're going to spend at the show. It was so incredibly
crowded that only the voices in my head could keep me from going insane.
That said, I'll head off to Leipzig next year again either way,
hopefully having more time to actually roam through the halls. Cheers!