There’s some busy gaming week ahead which will also mean no reviews or major articles published by me from August 20-25. Still in order to get a quick overview of what exciting events will occupy my time (and probably bereave me of some sleep), here’s a quick rundown of what to expect for those who can make it to Cologne during the week and those who stay at home and wait for some full coverage. This should only serve as a general idea of what Respawn, Notgames Festival and Gamescom are about. Changes to time schedules and topics are subject to change.
Respawn – Gathering of Game Developers 2013
Being at the same time as the GDC (Game Developers Conference Europe), the Respawn – Gathering of Developers takes place from Monday, August 19 til Tuesday, August 20 at the Abenteuerhallen in Köln-Kalk.
Starting at 5 pm on the first day and closing with a sponsored BBQ, then having the first lectures on the following day from 11 am until the late evening with another BBQ, it may seem a bit short, but the presentations held by international and German-centered industry veterans like Al Lowe (Leisure Suit Larry), Daedalic writer/producer Kevin Mentz (A New Beginning) or Falko Löffler (Jack Keane: The Fire Within) will sure please adventure game fans while other speakers include Mandy Waite (the one and only search engine Google) or Jussi Immonen (no less famed for the Angry Birds franchise and other Rovio titles).
It’s certainly an illustrious crowd, and the topics of the presentations are even more interesting. Where else does one get an insight into the storytelling techniques of pinball gaming (!), the conceptual art of adventure titles like Fizbin’s recent (not yet localized) The Inner World and more marketing-focused talk? What is even more interesting is that each guest receives an earphone which can be used to switch between different panel talks, making it easy to be outside the rooms while having a drink, etc..
Notgames Festival 2013
The Notgames Festival was first held in 2011 and only has its second year at the Fachhochschule in Cologne. A cooperation between the arthouse developers Tale of Tales, experimental game collective One Life Remains and the Cologne Gamelab, this is all about something which the curators describe as “not a category, not an art movement, not a genre”.
The games on display try to defy genre conventions and offer a wide range of different art styles. Quirky Japanese PS3 exclusive Noby Noby Boy sits comfortably between more story-driven titles like the recently released Gone Home. The list of games and presentations is so big that they deserve a more in depth article, so just head over to the main exhibition and playground sites to find out more about the individual titles.
It’s an impressive collection of (not)games and what’s even more appealing is that some designers will be there as well. Even better: There’s no entrance fee, making this a great alternative to the busy, loud and hectic Gamescom. The event starts on Monday, August 19 at 2 pm and is open until 10 pm, lasting nearly a whole week until Saturday, August 24. There’s also an official Expo party on Tuesday, although this requires a (free) registration.
The Gamescom (open for press from Wednesday, August 21 and for all from Thursday, August 22, until Sunday, August 25; for the opening hours see this overview) is probably the biggest event Europe gets if it can’t have the E3. This year, it’s even more interesting to attend because of the PS4 and Xbox One. The PR battling has been going on (to a quite ridiculous degree, to say the least), but now it’s up to Sony and Microsoft to really show what games they have in order to convince the audience which console to buy. Listing all the titles on display is tiresome and as there will be some exclusive reveals, it’s also quite pointless. Suffice it to say that it will be one of the most interesting Gamescoms in years for the two companies.
Nintendo is also back with quite some interesting Wii U titles (a console which has been struggling for some time to even convince fanboys and girls that it’s not a failed attempt to jump on the HD bandwagon) like Pikmin 3, The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker HD or Mario Kart 8 while the 3DS will also get some more food for its slowly but steadily building gaming catalogue with The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds or the newest Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy. It again shows that the company needs some more exposure and a connection to its audience in order to compete with the upcoming next gen.
Of course there are also many other hardcore titles for the current Xbox 360, PS3 and other consoles or the PC like Batman: Arkham Origins, Beyond: Two Souls, Splinter Cell: Blacklist and many more triple AAA games.
But what’s maybe even more exciting besides all the hype and noise surrounding the sequels and new consoles is that there will be an indie stand called Indie Arena, showcasing 10 games of 10 developers incorporating lots of different genres and styles. The beautiful artwork and sometimes innovative play styles make this one very special occasion to get into indie games. It’s also a very nice idea that the developers will be there as well. Looking at the trailer, it seems to be a great little booth. More info can be found on their Facebook page.
It’s going to be one hell of a busy week and it won’t be easy to coordinate all the different events. It will be near impossible to see everything despite being in Cologne almost the whole week, but I’ll try my best to get as many news and interviews plus lots of photos and videos for later coverage. Stay tuned on the Future Sack Facebook page as I might just post some updates if time and smartphone battery allow ;).
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