Friday, July 13, 2007

E3 2007

I'm not at E3 this year, but man do I ever wish I was. The quantity and quality of exciting news coming out of the once-mighty behemoth is staggering. We all knew that this was going to be the year that 'Next-Gen' became Current-Gen and came into its own, but even with my already high expectations I'm finding this a very exciting time to be in the game development industry.

A bunch of games caught my attention as particularly exciting this year. I don't claim that my list below will be particularly unique or uncover any hidden gems that you haven't already heard of, but I'll endeavour to explain a little why I think these games are special from both a player and production point of view.

First off I have to tip my hat to the Assassins Creed team for a truly impressive demo. I had the good fortune of playing through the E3 build myself (one of the perks of working just down the hall from them) and can honestly say that they nailed the free-running, open-world feel. There is an incredible sequence in the demo where you're chasing an NPC through the streets, avoiding the crowd, using the buildings and rooftops to your advantage to take shortcuts, all in the name of catching up to and eliminating him with a satisfyingly dramatic assassination. I played the demo three times and the chase sequence unfolded differently every time. This game deserves the hype and the team deserves all the accolades they're sure to receive!

I've never been the largest Halo fan (although I've purchased, played and won both games) but a lot of attention is being given to one particular aspect of Halo 3 that I'm very excited about. The User-Generated content that is being called 'Halo 3 Game Films' is an idea whose time has come and will revolutionize competitive gaming, meta-game participation and community building in general. One important detail about these films is that they are recorded entirely in-engine and so are only playable by those who have the game as well. This will be important for some of the advanced features (pausing an explosion, rotating around 360 degrees to capture the perfect angle then sending a screenshot to your victim) but will cut out some of the more mass-market appeal of easily uploading one's user-generated videos to YouTube. I'm anxious to see how long it takes for someone (maybe Bungie themselves) to come out with a simple tool that will allow players to feed their video files into an application that outputs a non-interactive video. With that we will see a true explosion of Halo3 content on YouTube.

I'm excited about EA's Skate for many of the same reasons as Halo 3 -- in that Skate is also going to feature a very robust Game Film feature (likely even more so then Halo3) to try and attract the significant culture that revolves around distributing real-life skateboard videos. This talk by Skate producer Jason Balmer doesn't focus on the user-generated content but is an excellent example of how anyone representing a game should act when confronted with a question regarding their competition. Jason is gracious, humble and gives plenty of credit where it is due. I would not at all be surprised to see someone from Activision making it a point to return the favor, giving reciprocal praise to Skate due in no small part to the grace Jason shows here. Oh yah, and Skate looks sh*t hot, too!

I can't pass up Rock Band because I'm pretty sure it will come out of E3 as a front-runner for Game Of Show. I defy you to watch the embedded video without dreaming of all the fantastic parties you'll have while playing Rock Band, your pile of Mario Party games sadly gathering dust in the corner. EA and MTV have lofty ambitions to change the way the world looks at the distribution of and participation with Music entertainment (the way MTV did in the '80s with music videos). It is not yet clear to me how succesfull they'll be in this endevour but I'd bet money that no game will come close to the party appeal. Rock Band is going to help make it cool to play videogames!

I'd really like to know what games coming out of this year's E3 most excite you and why. Are there any titles (*ahem* Bioshock *ahem*) that you're surprised to see not recieving much press? Any 'must-play' titles added to your list because of this year's E3?

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Blogger Patrick said...

Honestly, the stuff thats exciting me these days are reports of games getting 3 million registered players in two months, or transferring to virtual asset sales and making bank. I think the industry is largely myopic to the real diversification and growth going on, with Ubi, EA's re-org and Nintendo being partial exceptions.

Put simple, games are inherently a service, its about interaction rather than consumption of content, therefore service-oriented business models are where the real growth of the medium lies.

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Steve Chiavelli said...

"Blocks" from EA looks remarkably similar to something I've seen before... ;)

On a serious note, I was both happy and sad to see that Sony picked up Everyday Shooter for PSN. Happy because it is great to see an absolutely amazing indie title getting its due. Sad because I will now have to own a PS3 to play said amazing title. Time to save up some cash :(

On a shameless self-promotion note, that Drawn To Life game on the DS looks pretty awesome.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Darius Kazemi said...

The reason BioShock is not getting coverage is pretty simple, I think: Take Two would rather focus on showing off GTA IV at E3. There's already been plenty of press, and the game comes out next month. I do wish there would be more coverage, but I see where Take Two is coming from.

8:13 PM  
Blogger Michel said...

"The User-Generated content that is being called 'Halo 3 Game Films' is an idea whose time has come and will revolutionize competitive gaming, meta-game participation and community building in general."

Bungie has had films in their games as early as Marathon. Old fans of the company are already very familiar with sharing films of in-game achievements and victories. In Myth, films were an integral part of the many tournaments and commonly saved and shared to preserve hilarious physics explosions for posterity. The only thing revolutionary about this is it's now available on a console instead of a computer. But yes, I do agree it will strengthen the community and help people study tactics to improve their game. They had that effect on the Myth community, anyway. Marathon was never really a competitive multiplayer game so films were only used for speedruns and beating the game on the most difficult setting using only fists as weapons. Anyway, old Bungie fans like myself always considered films in Halo a missing feature. It's good to have them back.

3:36 AM  

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