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R P G A M E R   -   E 3   J O U R N A L   D A Y   O N E

E Thwii!
05.10.2006

Theo Litowski
STAFF COLUMNIST


Lights.
Camera.
Action.

Chronological order is the coolest order around, so I'll be relying on an event's location in time to keep today straight. Just so we're clear.

My day started about when I woke up. Which was probably around 7:30. Shower. Comb. Teeth. Shirt. Shoes. Door. Very little of my early morning is of any concern; suffice it to say I was getting pretty jazzed about going to E3. I put on my hot RPGamer polo shirt and made sure I had a big stack of business cards on hand. I didn't know then, but on the conference floor you need business cards. I met so many awesome people today. Damn, I'm getting ahead of myself.

The E3 shuttle was horrifically late. We were standing outside our hotel for much longer than we should have been. Fortunately, we arrived well before the 11:00 opening.

The swag started immediately. Personally, I didn't score a whole lot. That is, compared to some of my colleagues. I guess it's not really my priority. Stuff like this is my priority; experiencing the event and reporting it. Regardless, outside the convention centre, Pepsi-Co was handing out Mountain Dew with a unusually high percentage of winners. They had set up a booth a few feet away from the Mountain Dew to claim your hooded sweatshirt (bunnie hug in Saskatchewan)/t-shirt/drink cooler/backpack (or, in rare cases, a game). I won a backpack. Woo and yay. Apparently Mountain Dew in the United States has caffeine, and I didn't want a chemical buzz at that time of day, so I handed off the soda to a cohort.

I don't know how many people where there, but things were crowded. The flow of traffic tended to bottleneck around escalators, doorways, and scantily clad women.

Zach (ASV to most of you) gave us a quick overview of the LACC (Los Angeles Convention Center). There are three areas where booths are set up, and I managed to visit all of them today. I took a mental note of things I wanted to see in all three, and tomorrow I will target some specific developers I skimmed over today.

The noise is thunderous. Every developer wants your attention, and they are willing to do anything to catch your eye. This is not limited to loud music, flashing lights, booth babes (yes, they were banned; no, that doesn't matter), fire breathers, mostly naked Korean women playing string instruments, or free stuff. The greatest annoyance of the three is the loud music. Nobody can here anything. This much is given. I don't know how anybody can hear any music from the game they are playing without putting their ears to the speaker. Huge kudos goes to the people from enchanted arms for using (a) noise blocking headphones, and (b) a microphone for the booth attendees that channels right into the headphones. Where there's a will, there's a way.

From there me and Jerry (XeroZohar) wandered over to the Namco-Bandai booth and talked to a fellow about .hack//GU. I wasn't overly impressed, but it certainly was fun. Take a normal RPG and add a motorcycle, and you can't go wrong.

I won't talk too much about individual games right here and now; I'll save that for the impressions which I will post later. I paid special attention to some of the developers that we don't usually hear about. There is some really cool stuff coming out of non-Japanese Asia right now. Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, China, and Hong Kong all had strong representation at E3. While most of their games will never see the light of a North American day, I sorely wish some of them would. Note to everyone: Not just the Japanese make nifty games.

There's a section of the LACC called Kentia Hall. It is full of mostly small technological companies, demoing interesting new gadgets and whatnot. There are lots of wholesale buyers and sellers of video games, and plenty of video game development schools. Really, it's not as exciting as the ultra-flashy stuff on the other floors. A couple things caught my eye, though:
· The Chinese gaming pavilion was there, and among the developers was a group called Winking, who are putting together a pretty nifty looking MMORPG called PM Online. All they showed was CG cinematics, but the concept looked pretty sweet. An angel with a big sword flying through the air, frying a bunch of flying demons. There was also a giant Vegnagun-esque creature involved.
· There was a MMORPG called Hero's Journey by a group called Simutronics. The insane customization it offered the player as well as the promise of constantly evolving gameplay through the intervention of devoted gamemasters caught my eye. I may write an impression later.
· Imagine using brainwaves to play video games. It's a pretty cool thought, eh? A group called CyberLearning Technology is making next-generation peripherals that use a constant reading of your EEG to influence video game play. The product, SMART BrainGames, is a regular controller that is hooked up to your head with electrodes (remotely, using RF). When you become stressed, unfocused, or "zone out," the controller senses it, and dampens your ability to use analog properly. You won't jump as high or move as fast until you refocus. The founder, Dominic Greco, PhD, talked about the medical uses for people who have Autism, brain injuries, or who just want to improve their concentration. Really, it's quite interesting; brain gaming is the last frontier in total immersion.
That's just a quick sample of the whimsical stuff you can find at E3.

E3 is like nothing else in the world. After only one day of talking to people and playing games, I've learned more than I thought possible. There are so many awesome people in this industry, and they are all willing to take some extra time to talk to geeky guys wearing the all-important Media badge.

Well, tomorrow I'm going to go excruciatingly slow through the Atlus and Square-Enix booths, which I didn't go through today. I really want to play Twilight Princess, too. If we get there early enough, I might even get a shot at the Wii.

Talk to you tomorrow,
Theo Litowski







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