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Monday, July 31, 2006

E3 Not To Be!

And so it would seem as though 2006 has been the final year of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) as we know it. Next Generation reports : "...the spectacle that has held the industry in thrall for 12 years is at an end". This comes as a result of the major publishing and manufacture companies which provide the majority of the funding for the spectacle of the event in withdrawing their support for any further expositions. One must suppose that the increasing cost of displaying a working product at a suitably snazzy booth has been calculated to have exceeded the percieved benefit.
So what does this mean for gamers? As far as games journalism goes, E3 has provided a chance for journalists to ascertain the current state of the industry and to gain an accurate insight into the coming year of gaming, all knowledge which is then passed along to readers. Although mere thousands would attend the event, the ripples on the pond of gamers cast by the stone of E3 are far reaching. Gamers will look to other sources for this flow of information, and I believe there is a high probability of an E3-alike being created to fill the void. Until then, the annual Game Developer's Conference (GDC) provides a strikingly different but equally important role in updating and refreshing the industry. Of course there are also many other fantastic sources of information to be found - developer's journals are often kept on their websites and there are lots of dedicated people willing to slave away at their keyboards to keep others up to date - on professional websites such as Game Politics (linked to the right) and ahem well the less said about my own degree of professionality the better, but my blog and others will always remain. Until next time - peace out!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Valve - Portal Trailer #1

Beyond Portals

I'm pleased to observe that after a long time in the wilderness, the FPS genre has begun to show some innovative promise. I write this in the same week that I both grapple with the challenges offered by Humanhead's Prey and having just watched in awe the new Portal trailer released by Valve. Now although Prey's portals and gravity defying feats distract from what is essentially a linear game, and Portal is still months from release along with Half Life 2 : Episode 2 - both games bring to the PC a fresh mechanic with great potential for further refinement by developing studios and independent modders alike.
But what are the ramifications of technology such as the 'Portal Gun' when applied into a linear game? What if Prey allowed players to create their own enterances and exits rather than having them pre-defined? I don't believe there is a game in existence currently able to adapt to a player given this kind of power. The A to B and then to C structure upon which the gameplay depends would be broken, the experience of the game would change entirely. For those of you who have seen a preview of Medal of Honor : Airborne, here is a game which I believe attempts to empower players in a similar way. My understanding is that the majority of Airborne's levels begin with the player inside an aircraft and over the 'dropzone', with the player free to plummet to a starting location of their own choosing. I am not a developer myself, but even as an outsider it seems apparent that to design a level with this concept in mind would require a change in design technique to cater to the player's ability to experience their own story rather than have the story told to them. Much credit to Electronic Arts for their daring if the game is released with this concept still in tact.
The future for portals and their like remains unclear. It is up to us as gamers to recognise their importance as a mechanic going far beyond novelty in purpose. I'll keep my ear to the wall, and keep you updated.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Ship

My eyes open. I'm in my cabin, I know what must be done. I open my cupboard, chest of drawers, suitcase.. I take my book and reading glasses but what I'm looking for is not there. The round starts. I'm in a panic, I'm paranoid that someone is trying to kill me - and I'm totally correct, someone really is trying to kill me - you see, I'm playing The Ship developed by Outerlight and now available via Steam and I need a weapon. I have a name in my pocket, my 'quarry', the objective of my voyage is to kill this individual using any weapon I can get my hands upon. The door to my quarters swings open, the melodies of a past era fill my ears as the blade of a large red axe fills my head. I drop to the ground. A petite, well dressed female passenger stands above my corpse a moment, takes my wallet, then leaves.

Parsing Social Matrix...

Alright I'm going to endulge my critical self in the blogging phenomenon and perhaps learn a little about myself and others while I'm at it. I've started this blog to voice my opinions on gaming as a culture, the games industry and on the gaming community I've grown up alongside. I believe in the positive impact that computer games can make upon our lives, I make no apologies for any percieved bias within my posts and welcome anyone with an alternate viewpoint to allow their views to be known.