Journal

Reflecting on my day at E3


Went to E3 today for the first time in my life. I realize that the gaming industry is quite vast and that a fair number of people are eligible to go to this event. However that knowledge doesn’t make it feel any less special. I’m a simple creature in many ways and feeling good about getting into an exclusive event is not beneath me. As far as events go this isn’t all that much different from something like PAX or Blizzcon, albeit its more varied than the later. All the major publishers have their massive billboards, televisions, and PC batteries at the ready. And by PC battery I mean a large series of PCs, not a battery for PCs.

A fair number of the games on display are things I’m looking forward to. Even the new Assassin’s Creed is interesting to me. I haven’t played the last two, and didn’t complete all the content of Assassin’s Creed 3, nor did I play the Vita one. I think this is why I’m interested. Fatigue from long running series is at an all time high for people. Everyone is milking their products to death (I’m looking at you From Software, welcome to the club) and it is a shame. Even if you didn’t care to create new IPs there are so many old ones that are just begging to be brought back from the grave.

Almost any of them would sell on nostalgia alone. Add in compelling gameplay and reasonably good graphics and you’ve got yourself a winner. Part of my day at E3 was spent standing in lines for the new Skylanders game. Nintendo is to blame for this. They’ve partnered up with the Skylanders team to provide Amiibos that work both in those games and in Nintendo games. I wasn’t exactly expecting a stellar game when I walked up to test it out. What greeted me left me pleasantly surprised. The controls were good both on the ground and in the air. The visuals were perfectly within my realm of acceptable. I might even go as far to say that they are beyond acceptable and perfectly chosen.

I couldn’t hear the audio at all. The convention is far too loud for game audio to be even slightly parsed. Not a big deal though. I’m quite likely to buy the game (especially now that I have the exclusive figure from playing the game…you tricky dogs).

The biggest problem I think that E3 has is the desire to get people to test their games before getting a shiny bauble. For folks like me, if I’m interested in your game I’m likely to buy it even without having played the game. I can just watch other people play it for a few minutes to get an idea. Allowing people to forego the hands on experience to pre-order the game and get the bauble would help ease the incredibly long lines. Now, the lines are incredible when considering the population of the event. It was actually pretty easy to move around and I only rarely got annoyed with people. But still, hours to test a game for five minutes or less is just silly. Especially when a fair number of people in that line are already sold.

Another thing that the event could use is standing areas. Keep people moving in the walkways (enforcing this fairly religiously) and only allow standing on the grey carpeted areas. Quite a lot of the congestion at this event is entirely because people stand in the pathways. I’ve discussed it before but people act like a fluid and when you place them in a confined path those paths will function like arteries. Standing people are akin to blockage in the vein. Get enough of them together and you’ve got a stroke or a heart attack on your hands. The entire system breaks down.

This is a very powerful problem and even with the convention center largely empty (far more places people weren’t than were) it still was difficult to get through certain areas because of upwards of a dozen people standing around chattering. Chattering is perfectly fine and I wouldn’t want to take that away from people (in fact we met some very nice people in the Skylanders line and talked about the little figures for a very very long time). But blocking people’s paths (or even worse making it look like a line is forming and confusing people) is really benefitting nobody. It was especially unfortunate when we were blocked by a wall of people that were literally two feet from a large open area they could have been standing in. It wasn’t part of the pathway and it wasn’t part of an exhibit.

I dunno why folks do this. Probably the same reason they check texts at a stoplight or stand with their cart sideways in a store aisle.

I quite liked E3. I will most certainly go next year if the opportunity presents itself. If I had the power to dictate policy I think I could turn this event into a well oiled machine but as it stands it’s not terrible. Solid B+ convention, good show.

Unrelated: https://twitter.com/theultimateend/status/611030982544601088