Op-Ed

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Op-Ed

Under the heading: "Worth the Price of Admission," JR, Joe, Shannon The Man and I had the extreme pleasure of visiting the Red Octane booth for a few precious minutes this afternoon to preview Guitar Hero 2.

There simply are not enough adjectives in the English language to describe the experience.

Op-Ed

People sometimes ask me why certain games are mentioned on The Escapist more than others, and I always answer the same: Some games work hard at being noticed, some games work hard at doing great things and some games work very hard at both. Those are the ones we like to talk about. Hell, if you want to know what I mean, check their site - "We care more, we work harder." Empirical data suggests that this claim is nothing but the truth, and it's extremely reassuring.

Today, I went to check up on EVE Online, CCP's flagship title. Admittedly, I was unprepared - no appointment, no forward notice - just a notepad and an eager desire to see what new things were in store for my favorite MMOG. Not a problem. Moments after introducing myself, I was ushered into a private demo room, where Magnus Bergsson walked me through some of the new things in store for EVE.

Op-Ed

The first of what I am narcissistically assuming will be many party invites came through last night, prompting me to not only shower, but to also dress nicely for the eFocus party at the California Market Center Monday night.

I've been perhaps unkindly calling this the E3 for Wannabes, but it's a fitting moniker. We saw exhibits from a number of hardware and peripheral manufacturers, most of whom were not on the E3 show floor.

Op-Ed

"The Witcher is a typical RPG," Michel Madej of CD Projekt said, "with new, fresh appeal." In the next breath, he said, "[We think it will be] the most important RPG of its time."

Op-Ed

After a long Monday of waiting for a mission, getting drunk and staring at the ceiling fan, our orders finally came through: We were to assemble at 7am in the hotel lobby, load up and head out to the convention center. Those of us who are with the Press Corps planned to attend the 8am "Press Breakfast." The rest headed to Mission Control to guard the coffee and set up the wireless.

Surprisingly, all went as planned, and by 7:45 we were at the convention center. As we stood in line outside of the West Hall Theatre - all hands present, accounted for, showered, shaved, dressed and smelling sweetly - two things became clear: 1) We were most definitely on our game; and 2) E3 was not.

The "Press Breakfast" (for which we had RSVP'ed) was suddenly full and we could not get in. We were then asked to go to the "other room" - the kiddie briefing room, apparently - where there was sadly no food. Not good news for the half-dozen game journalists who had skipped the free waffles at the hotel. We were therefore sadly under-caffeinated during ESA President Doug Lowenstein's brief, yet poignant opening remarks. Hopefully we didn't miss anything.

Op-Ed

Greetings from the Themis (our parent company) booth in the Staples Convention Center at E3 2006. The floor has only been open for an hour, but the noise is already ramping up and there have already been many lines in which to wait.

One of those lines was for the E3 press briefing and breakfast (still looking for this "breakfast"), with speech delivered by Doug Lowenstein. From the spillover room, The Escapist team and I listened as the ESA President gave a State of the Industry of sorts, bringing in data from a soon-to-be-published white paper commissioned by the ESA. All in all, an interesting speech.

Op-Ed

Greg Costikyan sits next to me on a white chair. It's 9:00 a.m. and we're both on our first cup of coffee. He's already sharp, though, and his fast-paced, energetic speech quickly brings me around. There's a lot bouncing around in his head, and I want to catch it all.

Op-Ed

Straight from my inbox, a press release announcing the acquisition of Red Octane, makers of the Escapist Staff Party Game of Choice, Guitar Hero.

While it's cetainly great that their talent is being recognized, I hope the acquisition doesn't bring with it the problems and slippage that these things tend to. Plus, it's kind of sad to see another Little Guy fall.

Full press release included after the jump.

Op-Ed

New Guitar Hero! Fifty-five new songs! Metal! The return of Johnny Napalm!

Read more for the press release that made its way into our inbox! Exclamation points!

Op-Ed

You may have read about it already, but just in case let me direct you to the Azeroth Metroblog. I'm a contributor to my local Metroblog, but I had no idea Azeroth had joined our family until I got an email from honcho Sean Bonner letting us know that this little easter-egg project had been outed by the likes of his friend Wil Wheaton and WoW Insider. (I swear, that's not an intentional Easter pun, kids.)

Op-Ed

Wired online has just posted a short piece by Jordan Mechner, called The Hollywood Trap, wherein he draws some attention to the confusion video game designers seem to have between cinematic-styled and gameplay-specific storytelling techniques. That is, cut-scenes do not a game-story make. Most of what Mr. Mechner says is very much in line with some of the recent issues of The Escapist, so go and read it.

While making his point, though, Mechner says this:

"One small example: In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the hero doesn't realize he's gained the power to turn back time until the player dis covers that he has a new controller button at his disposal - and uses it to save his life by rewinding a fatal mistake. Had this revelation occurred in a cutscene instead of during active play, it would not have the same impact."

Op-Ed

I completely missed this when it was originally published, probably due to the holidays, and I wager plenty of others did as well. Raph Koster (of Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies fame) has an exceptional essay titled "Do levels suck?" on his site going into detail on why, wait for it..., levels suck. This was posted to the MUD-DEV mailing list, and is aimed primarily towards designers, but any serious gamer will be able to see the merits in the argument as well just by comparing their gaming experiences.

Op-Ed

I've been playing primarily two games of late, God of War and Dragon Quest 8. While they are both role-playing games, they each have an extremely different feel. There's the obvious differences in setting (Random Fantasy World that doesn't seem to give its name anywhere v. mythological ancient Greece); in art style (rich color, cell shading and cute v. 3-D, realistic and gritty); in gameplay (turn-based combat v. occassionally button-mashy, but cool-looking real-time action); and in rating (DQ8 is "Teen" v. GoW is a solid "Mature").

Op-Ed

If you haven't taken a look at the 2006 CES Keynote (streamed video here), featuring Microsoft everything, it's a rather interesting look at technology. Most notably, at 1:25:55 into the stream (yes, one hour and 25 minutes), during the Xbox 360 portion of the film, Peter Moore (Corporate Vice President) lets out that Street Fighter II will be hitting Xbox Live Arcade by March. w00t!

Op-Ed

So, my boys at Kotaku turned me on to Gamespot's brief lowdown on some of Flight Simulator X's new features. Check out what Kotaku had to say: