On Wednesday, June 16, 2010 – with a particularly long day, 21+ hours, I flew down to Los Angeles and back in the same day while packing in as much as I could of the Electronics Entertainment Expo.
In years past it has filled 3 halls in the LA Convention Center – this year the 3rd hall was closed. Which meant a bit less walking and I was actually able to see most things in a single day.
First, I braved the 1.5 hour line to get into see the new Nintendo 3DS – the lines got much longer after the initial rush when the doors opened.
It is INCREDIBLE! As a person who wears glasses I enjoyed a real 3D movie for the first time (I hate wearing the polarized lenses over my own glasses). I played games, tech demos, watched moves, took 3D pictures and had fun for almost a half hour. The accelerometer and gyroscope worked flawlessly and with own user-facing camera and 2 stereoscopic away-facing cameras the most fun was with Augmented Reality apps. Games like Mario Kart, Resident Evil and MGS were fantastic, but there were demos of simple vertical shooter games that had parallax layers of 2D graphics that really looked new and innovative again.
- Faster CPU – we don’t know who makes it or how fast yet
- 3D display with adjustable slider for 3D effect (maximum to off)
- Larger touch pad display – 320×240 (old screen was 240×192)
- Analog control pad
- User-facing camera for face grabs
- 3D Away-facing camera for Augmented Reality and photo/video taking
- Downloadable games like DSi
- Gyroscope – knows exact orientation
- Accelerometer – senses shaking and movement
- D-pad, 4 action buttons and 2 shoulder buttons
- 50+ 3D enabled games at launch – compatible with all old DS games
The 3DS wins the show award for the most BUZZ – which is what E3 is all about. Buy stock now!
I was not able to brave the second long line for the new Zelda game, but I did get to see it played and enjoyed what I saw. Wii Party and Kirby’s Epic Yarn looked particularly good as well. Golden Sun looked great. I really appreciated Nintendo having such a nice layout to the booth – it made waiting in line entertaining because I was still playing games and watching trailers.
Kind of disappointing. Everything looked like games I’d already seen, version X.0. Even Little Big Planet 2.0, which I was hoping would really innovate with the new 3D level building tools they promised looked like v1.0 with some harder to use tools. Move, Sony’s new motion controller, had some support. I believe that too many developers were just trying to use it as a fancy 3D mouse. It feels too much like a Wii-remote with Motion-Plus and a nunchuck controller to be called innovative.
Kinect, MS’s new name for Project Natal, had a lot of support and was playable in many booths including Microsoft, Capcom, Ubisoft, MTV and many more. An observation made by many people based on the size of the demo areas was, “I don’t have an apartment/house big enough to play Kinect games.” With all the jumping, running, dancing and bouncing around it does seem like you will want a BIG area to play in. The new tiny Xbox 360 with the built in WiFi and 250GB HD was very nice.
Epic Mickey and Guilty Party were both pretty impressive. Epic Mickey feels like a Zelda or Mario scale game made in the good old USA. It felt moody and cool and will be fun to play. Guilty Party was something brand new – it combines elements of the Clue board game, with mini-games and social party style games to create a very innovative mystery party game. It reminds me of Mortimer Beckett (I worked on the Wii version) and my friend, Keith Nemitz’s game, “Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble!”
While watching the trailer loop for Nexon (Maple Story, Kart Rider) I found out that they have over 200 Million MAU for their Dungeon Fighter game – a arcade style side-scrolling beat’em up with tons of players and monsters on screen at one time. Numbers like 200+ Million make even Farmville seem small by comparison. It is a staggering number of users and certainly explains why they have decided to develop their own social network.
I learned some years ago that many of the big publishers can’t innovate any more – they have their franchise brands and must release a new one each year or two, or the investment in that brand dies. So I treat E3 like a big Easter Egg hunt… searching high and low for games that explore new ground – trailblazers. This means I lurk around the back of booths, in the corners of the halls and chat with folks standing in lines about what they think was ‘cool’. Over the years I seem to get lucky finding small booths that mostly don’t even have primarily English speakers. Teams from Taiwan, South Korea, Finland, German, Sweden come to see if they can breakout and make it in the BIG industry of video games.
My E3 2010 favorites are:
- Dungeon Viva – a web-based Taiwan knock-off of the classic Dungeon Keeper with very cool graphics and funny story
- Nindou – a web-based multiplayer battle game that looks like it might have had 2 people working on it (1 artist, 1 engineer) – I think it was made in a game maker I’d never seen before
- Dragon Nest – An MMO like Dragonica from the great Nexon folks – cute graphics, epic feeling gameplay and story- easy to learn to play – I almost lost track of time I was enjoying it so much
- BlockParty.com – a social community build around all the Nexon titles for the hundreds of millions of loyal fans to share invites, hook-up for multiplayer, send messages, and provide the viral mechanisms that Facebook enjoys – but everyone is a gamer already
While searching for innovation I usually find the occasional weird stuff. This year was fascinating – Renken had a full hair styling studio on the main E3 floor and was styling girls hair – later I did find out that it was in promotion for a game – Busy Scissors – originally I just thought it was an excuse to give away free hair products. One company had a booth giving away samples of GamerGrub – bags of snacks especially designed for gamer’s tastes. The company that makes the slime that cleans your keyboards was selling bags of yellow goop for $5. The list goes on and on – but what did they have to do with games???? I may never know.
I notice a trend to give away a link to a wacky picture more this year. Attendees dress up in a funny costume related to the game and then get their picture taken with a site to pick it up from. Some just built the set and assume you brought your own camera. There was still plenty of candy, t-shirts, and buttons. I didn’t find any key-chains. BTW – GamerGrub is good. My best schwag of the show is a bunch of black recycled fiber bags to carry my groceries in – Thank you E3 for making me a greener person.
Tell me what you liked, or ask me about what I saw – post your comments below.