May 19, 2005

E3 First Impressions [Guest Blogger: Lemming]

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at May 19, 2005 12:09 AM

Lemming is at E3! He sends along this report:

Here's the quick version, in a word: OMFG!

I spent most of the day doing volunteer work, whoring myself out in order to earn my pass for the exhibition hall, followed by about an hour and a half in South Hall (one of the two main halls), and about 20 minutes in Kentia Hall (the stuff targeted at vendors and developers, not for mass consumption). I ramble on a bit about the volunteer work first, so skip down a bit if you just want to hear about the show.

The first thing I learned is that Gary Coleman is irritable. And very, very short. Though he didn't deign to speak with me, I had to give his little entourage directions to the right line to get their passes.

The real celeberties I swooned over was when a couple of Square-Enix employees who came to me to figure out what line they needed to be in. No, I have no idea who exactly they were or what they do, but they were employees and they *weren't* just the hired help to run the show. I kept my composure... barely. "It's just that, no *human* has powers like you do," Square-Enix.

I also learned today that when you have two lines, both of which are long enough to loop around the entire South Hall lobby (easily several hundred people in each line), and when sometimes the thing that determines which line you need to be in is whether your confirmation code starts with a number or a letter, people get confused. People get *really* confused. My job, for the first half of the day, was maintaining order in one of these said lines. I have my voice back now, mostly.

After that, I got to play a Johnny Mnemonic mini-game. They use Palm Pilots (actually, Visors) with an attachment to swipe attendee badges at various checkpoints--very convenient. The problem is that they have very little RAM, and after around 500 swipes they need to be taken to the central office, the card data needs to be offloaded, and then the memory cleared. They had enough visors to exactly cover the checkpoints, plus one extra. My job was to constantly run around the checkpoints, and when one of them got to around 3 or 400 swipes, swap in the spare, and take the full one back to the office to offload and wipe. Lather, rinse repeat.

Of course, since I got this "special" assignment, the volunteer manager couldn't find me when she came around to let all the volunteers off of their shifts so they could go see the show (I was on patrol, yay!). I ended up being on the job for a couple extra hours, and didn't make it to the show floor until just after 4pm.

Even at that, the day was totally worth it. Once inside the main hall, I just stumbled around in a daze. I've only ever seen extravagance that tops this in Las Vegas, and even at that, by less than you might think.

The Rockstar booth? More like small city block, and even still they didn't have any place for regular attendees--just a large area filled with parked busses and RVs (yes, on the showroom floor), all enclosed in a cyclone fence as if to say, "Fuck off, we know we're hot." Occasionally they'd throw t-shirts over the fence. I did see a rather tough looking man try to scale the fence around back. An even tougher looking bouncer yanked him down, roughed him up a bit, and sent him on his way.

As much of a sleazebag male as I am, when I go to a videogame convention, I'm there for the videogames, so booth babes (while nice to look at) aren't really my thing. But sometimes, well, it really is something special. All I have to say is this: "I win."

lemming and babes

I played a bit of Dragon Quest N, but couldn't find my way out of the damn town. What I did find was an impressive display of stuffed Jellies.

slimes

I want to take these home almost as badly as I want to take that last foursome home...

I didn't manage to pull down any swag today, except for a deck of cards. The company giving those out was called "IQ" and while I hardly remember the game they were showing off (not at all impressive), they used up most of their space to put up a large stage where they had a squad of girls singing and dancing every half hour or so... Classy.

Square-Enix didn't have any playable FFXII stuff going, but they did have an interesting FF XI setup--every hour, they pick two parties of either 4 or 5 people randomly from the audience. They get to choose between a couple of pre-fab level 50 or so characters, and then choose what boss they want to fight from a big poster. Depending on how hard the boss is, they get a prize if they win--a t-shirt for the super dink boss, and the last two on the list were top-of-the-line motherboards and graphics cards. I *just* missed a party winning the video card today, apparently the organizers were really surprised they pulled it off.

I'm getting super-tired, so now for the super fast summaries.

Kingdom Hearts II looks like the first, only a little better. And the statue of Mickey with a key sword was fairly cool.

The next Castlevania game for the DS looks sweet.

Soul Caliber III features a chick with a hula-hoop of death. Possibly from space.

The Konami booth has *the* best carpet for sitting and resting (the entire show floor was carpeted).

They had a vintage video game system collection on display--very cool.

Those of us who had a chance to make it to the floor today got together just a bit ago to share the skinny on where to get the coolest shows and the best swag--between that, and the fact that I'll be there the whole day, I expect tomorrow to be killer. In fact, when I stop to take a rest (I'm sure I'll need to at some point), I will try to take advantage of some of the free wireless access points and post in the comments from the show. Yarr!

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Comments

Oh man! Sounds awesome. Maybe now that the semester's over I can get back into video gaming.

I actually have one of the stuffed Dragon Quest slimes, thanks to my brother's adventures in Tokyo. :)

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | May 19, 2005 12:16 AM

Ok, posting a comment like that to my own blog looks a little weird--but I figured editorial comments in the guest post would also have been weird. So there you have it.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | May 19, 2005 12:18 AM

E^3 is _very_ high on my list of things to do! I'm going to do it in 06, if at all possible. (There are a couple days with some subset of stuff open to the public, right? Of course, I do know a couple people in the industry, so maybe I can convince them to help me out [I doubt it].)

I'm jealous, although the hospatility we've been shown in Taiwan has been incredible (for example, the buddhist temple we went to last night was incredible in several ways, though obviously in a very different sense from E^3) and I've made some very useful academic, connections so I wouln't trade it this year. I went to dinner with a couple of the local grad students tonight. They told me that the grad students have all been talking about my age and wondering what it is. They apparently decided I was around 23 or maybe as old as 25. One of the people with whom I went to dinner told me "My girlfriend thinks you're cute." Why a guy would ever want to tell someone that (whether accurate or not) is beyond me. I don't leave until Saturday morning, so maybe I can get a date tomorrow? (Knowing me, I won't try, but the facts above would seemingly improve my chances by some amount.) OK, back to EQ. I digress...

The only time I've ever had any sort of chance to make it was 03, when it conflicted with the main research conference I need to attend (the most important one with my primary audience, which is in May of every odd year).

By "swag", I assume you mean chotchke. :)

In the pic with the ladies, you look totally stoned, by the way (and that thought occurred to me before I remembered your similar comments), but maybe it was kind of like staring at the sun, so it's to be expected.

-M (for whom every post is an open post :) )

Posted by: Mason | May 19, 2005 4:38 AM

The show is always open to the public, if they're willing to pay. For access to the exhibit hall for all three days, it's $275 in advance, or $325 at the door. If you can con your way into being affiliated with the industry, you can get in for free (at least to the exhibit halls).

I think a better use of my time next year may just be to buy the ticket, but it was definitely worth it this year to volunteer instead, I think.

Oh, something I forgot to mention... ZOMBIES! (Cause if there's one thing I hate...) I saw quite a few zombies walking around. At one point, I caught a glimpse of one sneaking up behind someone, and discretely sneaking a little piece of paper into someone's swag bag. The paper was shaped and colored like a rotten, severed hand, and had the words "You're infected" written on it.

Checking up with someone who actually made it to the Resident Evil booth, my initial guess was confirmed--they're "spreading" the virus, and if you get an "infected" thingy slipped into your bag, you can take it back to the booth and redeem it for a killer makeup job--they have someone there zombifying people all day.

Also, for lunch yesterday, I wandered off from the convention center to find the dirtiest, crumiest little hole-in-the-wall mexican restraunt I've ever been to--at least in the US. If you know my taste in food, you know that that's saying something. While I munched on my chili cheese fries, I was amused by the table of impeccably dressed Japanese businessmen sitting behind me eating tacos.

Oh, and I totally forgot the New Egg bus driving around outside the convention center and firing t-shirts out of a canon. He kept accidentally firing the shirts into traffic, and yes people still scrambled for them. Then he'd make some lame attempt at innuendo regarding "the power of his gun."

Today I plan to get there early enough to get a ticket to see Square-Enix's show, get to play the XBox 360 (which doesn't seem to be playable by the general public at the Microsoft area, but ATI has them available for public abuse), try out the new Zelda, and maybe even get to play in one of the FF XI boss battle challenges. In fact, I got up and ready a whole hour early (on accident!), which is why I'm here, typing this, instead of getting my butt down to the convention center.

Anyway, I'll probably post here later in the day. I might even email a few more pictures--oh, and sorry for not resizing them first, Gazebo. Unless you want the high-res shots.

Posted by: Lemming | May 19, 2005 6:42 AM

Looking good Lemming! Too bad no FFXII, I'm dying to play it. If I ever finish thesis then I'm going to reward myself with a solid week of bonding with the PS2.

Posted by: Jenny | May 19, 2005 10:46 AM

Lemming: High-res photos aren't a problem, I've just been letting Flickr resize them.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | May 19, 2005 1:00 PM

Note to self: Steal Lemming's pass for Friday.

Posted by: Mike^2 | May 19, 2005 2:12 PM

The amount charged is comparable to many of the academic conferences I attend, so I am willing to pay that if I don't come up with another way to get in.

As for slimy restaurants near the convention center, an old Caltech staple (this might technically be a tradition only among Scurves, several of whom harped on about this place constantly) is The Pantry. I went there once during the March Meeting (for the 2nd time ever; I went there as a junior) and remembered why it had certain reputations.

Posted by: Mason | May 20, 2005 9:07 AM

I sent Mikemike to the show with my pass today. Yesterday was awesome. I'm so damn tired. Will give more of an update tomorrow.

Posted by: Lemming | May 20, 2005 7:36 PM

YOU KNOW YOU LOVED THE ZOMBIES THEY WERE AWESOME

Posted by: LIZ | May 28, 2005 5:55 PM
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