No updates for the past few days since checking in at the hotel in Cologne. Not much time and sleep during my stay. Finally back… and preparing for the Fantasy Film Fest (also in Cologne) tomorrow for another week…
So many impressions with videos, photos and simply visual and sensual styles… again words cannot express the whole experience, but I’ll try…
Wednesday, August 18 2010
The first day was for press only, although this didn’t mean it wasn’t crowded. There were lots of people later, but at least you had some time in the morning or so to have a look around and try some games for yourself before going from one presentation to the next.
Here’s one of the first videos I made when entering Hall 8 which had most of the Nintendo games:
I played some F.E.A.R. 3 without queuing, but I have to say the graphics looked pretty outdated. Of course the whole soundtrack and effects didn’t work with all the people and other booth sounds around you. That’s a general problem with the Gamescom: Ironically it’s the worst location to try out the games you’re interested in. Especially adventure games in which you have lots of dialogues and music. Next to “Gray Matter” and “Black Mirror III” in the DTP booth you had to listen to or endure some trailers of other games. Of course it got worse the day(s) after when the general public were storming the halls, but all in all it was not the best way to experience the games.
What was pretty cool were some trailers you could watch outside the stands, like this one from Peter Molineux’s “Fable III”. It doesn’t show you anything about the RPG elements or what makes it different from the forerunners, but what it DOES is to give you a very amusing insight into the world of chickens. Something Molineux really seems to nail down… that is he apparently has a pretty nasty touch when it comes to these animals if you know all of his games where you could kick and kill them just for the fun of it.
Now the real work was obviously about new adventure games. There weren’t any big surprises, at least the first day. They were usually shown in the business area, mostly in small rooms where you were shoved into. Not the best place to be when a fire breaks out, but at least it wasn’t that loud outside… except for the occasional first-person-shooter demonstration in the room next door, as can be seen in this short video which was shot during the “Lost Horizon” presentation of Deep Silver, a game released only two days later.
What I was especially interested in was how Sony’s new Move technology affected the gameplay of “Heavy Rain”, one of the most important storytelling game for a long time. Unfortunately the new controls don’t add anything to the excitement the old ones had. Even worse: The movements were not precise enough, so that shaking the controller (which looks exactly like the Wii periphery) looked sillier than anything else. Especially the way the oversized ice cream cone (at least that’s what it looked like) was held and how many buttons you had to press was way too complicated and not intuitive at all. It all seemed like a gimmick, but nothing to sell the hardware, as can be seen in this rather lame presentation of my new shaky skills:
The other games which were shown in the Sony booths didn’t look much promising either. It looked as if the company just wanted to have some of Nintendo’s casual game market and didn’t really think about the games they put out. Sure it was fun to watch people waving and wiggling those strange controllers around, but it definitely didn’t look very exciting, as can be seen in these two short videos:
Maybe even more interesting than new games were some exhibitions like the retro section or the Art of Games.
The retro section had some great games like Pacman, Alex Kidd, Bubble Bobble etc. you could play on the old consoles. There were even the old boxes in glass cases, something like paradise for collectors and game geeks like me.
The Art of Games was even better because it included lots of artwork people painted and had on canvas. Unfortunately you couldn’t buy them, but it was just a great idea to present this to the people in order to show there is something like art in video-and computergames as well.
Of course there were lots of games to see and not enough time to do anything else except running from one business area to the next. There was also not a lot of time for eating or drinking. Luckily I carried all those water bottles and a mix of coke and lemonade with me (I had in my heavy luggage) so I didn’t need to rely on the overpriced drinks at the fair. The food was also very expensive, so I just got a Snickers for lunch.
What was also weird about the press day (besides some press people who definitely weren’t past 18 years old) was how some stands had people giving away T-Shirts and stuff. Of course it’s nothing new that you get press material (as we got some “A New Beginning” soundtracks and buttons from Daedelic). But those people were actually screaming the name of the publisher in front of a stage, and then they tried to grab the merch, as can be seen here when one of my collegues tried to get a shirt:
But one of the best free merch articles was definitely the one of “The Witcher 2”. It looked like a real games packaging and included lots of goodies, like some paper characters you could piece together. What was really cool was the way it was promoted, like 18- instead of 18+ as a rating system or other silly jokes.
Of course there were also some pretty unusual game presentations in the business area, like the one of the Austrian publisher Jowood. They tried to sell us a game called “Playmobil Top Agents” which looked an played like a GTA game… and said it was an adventure. Well, I played it for some time (we were there with 11 people, two websites) and found out you could buy weapons and drove around with the car etc.. But it was meant for 6-year-olds as the age rating system said. But of course we all know how this works… namely it doesn’t. It borrowed from lots of genres, but none of its characteristics shared features of the adventure genre… if you take out the story element which almost any game nowadays has.
As the day drew to a close, we had to do a podcast, one of my first, which was about discussing what we had seen on the first day of the Gamescom. Even though there was a kind of plan and order of topics, it was more spontaneous, and the contributions to each game were sometimes a bit difficult to make, especially if you have in mind how many people will listen to it, as the podcast is usually released uncut. It lasted about one hour, and then it was time to go to bed.
The first day of the Gamescom was over.