The Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3, is a yearly video game expo that takes place in the Los Angeles convention center and has been through its ups and downs over the years. Once an expensive spectacle it was scaled back and recently, possibly due to dwindling numbers and a lot of complaints, been reinvigorated again somewhat. It's a big, brash and loud affair where publishers show their latest games and hardware manufacturers often announce their latest plans.
This year Paul and myself decided to head out there under the Score Studios banner to, hopefully, meet some people, catch up with some friends and generally make a nuisance of ourselves. The show itself is very much geared to publishers and press, with long queues and areas blocked off from view, so we weren't expecting to get to see that much ourselves. Nevertheless we spent some time on the show floor and got to see some cool stuff.
It certainly was a show of threes. The astoundingly gorgeous Battlefield 3 was behind closed doors, but we had a quick go at Deus Ex 3, a game that deserves some time and effort spent on it rather than a quick 10 minute demo at a crowded and noisy expo. Saints Row 3 looks insane, Assassin's Creed 3 looks nice, as did Modern Warfare 3.
Predictably Microsoft promoted their Kinect portfolio heavily, while Nintendo was all about the WiiU, which still has me slightly baffled, and Sony its more interesting and affordable Vita. The latter two were blocked off from us by long queues and our aversion to queueing; legions of press and enthusiasts would wait for the expo doors to open in the morning and literally run inside to start the queues. A wrong turn and you're staring at the back of a 2 hour queue before the first minute of the day's show has even begun.
Though the WiiU is a strange piece of kit, the Nintendo booth had more on show than just that; a lively library of 3DS titles was on display with, obviously, Zelda Ocarina of Time being my own personal focus of interest. Luigi's Mansion, a game I enjoyed immensely on the Gamecube, also got a sequel on the device, something I'm quite excited for.
Aside from the Vita we also saw the Playstation Xperia, which was interesting but not as interesting as the fact it ran Minecraft! Microsoft's booth had a large section with glassed off "living room" bubbles where the host of new Kinect titles was being shown off. A handful of independent games too was very exciting, like Trenched, From Dust and especially the much anticipated, by me at least, Bastion which not only looked gorgeous but also implemented a voice over idea that talks about your actions as you make them; something I myself had thought of years ago, as did many other people I'm sure. I'm just glad to see it works really well!
Though we saw enough and got ourselves excited for a fair number of upcoming titles for a game developer game expos are mostly about one thing: socialising with other devs. This we managed to do a lot of! Not only did we manage to have parties or drinks every night and catch up with a few old friends in the industry, we also managed to meet a large number of new people. Something we miss in Japan is the ability to meet developers from different companies and have spirited chats or heated debates about technology, games and the industry with increasing drunkeness, and in one short week we tried to make up for it.
E3 can be worthwhile. As a game expo is works better as a business affair, meeting with publishers or demoing your game to the press. For your average developer though, like many other game shows, it's just good to educate yourself on future release schedules, see what the current trends and levels of technology are and to get drunk with your peers and chew the fat.
We're back in Tokyo now, busy at work and a few kilos heavier. Next up is Tokyo Game Show.