Op-Ed

Join The Escapist's writers and editors each weekday afternoon for an look at the issues important to you.

Op-Ed

The one-year anniversary of The Escapist's inaugural issue is fast approaching. To celebrate, we here in the office have been doing a lot of drinking. Also having meetings and stuff, but mainly drinking. Lots and lots of drinking ...

Where was I?

Oh yes. Part of producing a weekly magazine such as ours involves the continuing search for new and interesting subjects about which to write. Thankfully our shared hobby is continually providing and revealing juicy nuggets which have yet to be pondered fully. We have also been blessed to be associated with a number of fantastic contributors who manage to pull these various thoughts together into fabulous prose week after week. The approaching anniversary therefore belongs to them as much as to us.

Yet we always want more. The editorial staff at The Escapist is constantly on the prowl for new and exciting writers who may bring something new to the table, or who can share with us a view of something old, seen through fresh eyes.

Op-Ed

The latest in what seems to be a never-ending assault on the very concept of common sense by those in high places at Sony Entertainment came yesterday as it was rumored by several usually reliable sources (and not denied by Sony) that the entertainment media giant is planning to restrict sales of used copies of PS3 games.

Why this seems ridiculous: It's practically impossible unless the company were to implement severe hardware/software restrictions on how one could use any given game. In other words, they would have to require software authorization for each game, locking it to one specific console only, thereby rendering the software useless on any other machine.

Why it's even remotely plausible: Sony owns a patent for the technology which would make this scheme a possibility.

Op-Ed

I was never a particular fan of the original Shadowrun pen-and-paper RPG. I preferred the more hardcore Cyberpunk 2020. I played Shadowrun maybe three, four times, tops.

What's sad is that I'm apparently a bigger fan of the setting than Mitch Gitelman, studio manager of FASA, creators of the upcoming Shadowrun for the XBox 360. Mitch recently wrote in his blog, "When we decided to do Shadowrun we realized there was a ton of baggage that came with it... there are magic spells, and shamanic spirit magic, and cybertech, and metahumans like elves, and dwarves and such, and astral space, and the Matrix..."

Op-Ed

As I described in my article "> Read Game" in The Escapist issue 7, there is still a small but devoted audience for interactive fiction (text games). Now IF fan Graham Nelson has released Inform 7, the latest version of a venerable program many IF authors use to craft their stories.

By text game standards, Inform 7 is really quite the big deal:

Op-Ed

Under the heading "Seriously Guys, You Should Have Seen This Coming Years Ago," it would appear that Infinium Labs' former chief executive was actually full of doo doo all along.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Tim Roberts with misrepresenting The Phantom game service to potential investors. The crime? Claiming that it actually existed.

I know this is shocking. Take your time. I can wait.

Op-Ed

I got to play the Wii, too, and didn't suffer a Black Pearl-type curse for an unholy bargain with the Nintendo Mafia, which my colleagues did. The zombie thing is disconcerting, but these are the sacrifices we make for journalism. You think "Nintendo Mafia" is catchy exaggeration on my part, but it really isn't. We were in a number of meetings where publishers/developers were especially eager to show off the cool stuff they were doing with the Wii and wanted to sneak one in, but...(here, I'm leaning forward and whispering, looking around for anyone listening) Nintendo would find out. This actually happened, to the point that when two Nintendo representatives strolled into the Majesco meeting I ranted about earlier, the other writer and I both heard the Godfather theme play (though maybe it was more like this) .

However, EA is big enough that the Nintendo Mafia can't flex on them, so when the rep doing the Madden Wii demo asked if I wanted to play, I was knocking people over like George Costanza in a fire. I mean, yea, Nintendo is going to make cool stuff with their platform, but this is a third party publisher and one of the biggest franchises ever. It'll set the tone.

Op-Ed

I had the opportunity to sit down with Lars Kroll, the CEO of Runestone, the people working on Seed. I went into this meeting, not knowing quite what to expect from people creating an MMOG with no combat. I mean, what does one do without battle?

Role-play. At least that's what the Seed developers were aiming for, says Kroll. Runestone created a world where players could where players can curry favor with NPCs, run for player-elected positions and potentially sabotage other players' activities. That last one is not something Runestone put in a specific mechanic to accomplish, but Kroll says with a sly smile that some players might be able to figure some ways to wreak havoc in the world.

Op-Ed

The Escapist hosted a rockin' party last night at Privilege and luckily, I got on the VIP list!

Op-Ed

Toward the end of the day yesterday, we hit up the Microsoft [strike]booth[/strike] [strike]moon[/strike] space station. Of course, we stopped in to chat about Viva Pi? with Justin Cook from Rare.

Op-Ed

Wii

Julianne and I got VIP access to the Wii late on Thursday. I don't know what kind of back-room deals went down to get us on that list, and I don't want to know. The Nintendo booth is the hottest real estate at the show, and - as Joe mentioned - the wait to get hands-on time with the Wii is typically over an hour. Not worth our time, in other words. So when word came down that we'd been granted access to The Short Line, I literally jumped at the chance.

Op-Ed

Chrome Hounds is based on the Armored Core series and, according to the game's producer, Toshifumi Nabeshima, is intended to be Sega's foray into the world of Xbox Live-enabled games.

Op-Ed

Mythic reminds me of that kid in school who would relentlessly raise their hand for every question the teacher asked - not necessarily knowing the answer, but fearlessly willing to make an attempt. Walking into their booth this year, I wanted to see what the follow up to Imperator's failed development was, and what - if any - lessons were learned by way of it. Surprisingly, it seems as if they're drawing from the same design playbook as their previous titles, adding very little in the way of innovation - which is depressing, considering the talent on their team.

Op-Ed

We rolled into the show at around 9:00. A couple of us decided we'd see if we could beat the rush to check out the Wii, because hey, you gotta check out the belle of the ball.

However, it turned out about 700 people had the same great idea. Read more for pics of the line, as well as to see how far it's stretched.

Op-Ed

On a personal note: California is, in fact, the strangest place on Earth. My apologies in advance to any strange Californians who may be reading this.

Under the subject heading: "Never Get Off the Boat," a small group of Themites and I spent - literally - two hours looking for a place to eat last night. The adventure began when Greg insisted that we eat at "a great place" which unfortunately had been demolished.

Op-Ed

In the words of Nietzsche, E3 is a snowmobile racing across the tundra. Suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath. At night the ice weasels come.

So I did my share of floor duty today. The greatest thing I saw today was something I've taken to calling "Grand Theft Auto: Great White Shark." When the booth babes--side note, despite the alleged "serious business" approach, I saw ample cleavage, dancing girls, and booth babes--handed me a little flier for Jaws, I added it to my stash with only a little bit of interest. Movie tie-in games have a tradition of being bad and like any other kid who stumbled into a video store circa 1986, I've played the previous Jaws, which may as well have been called, "Sailing Around Until You Get Eaten By A Shark" or "My god, my mom only lets me rent one video game a week and I'm stuck with this until next Thursday."

My opinion swiftly changed during my Majesco appointment.