E3 2006 Part 4: Vic Ireland Enjoys Steak
Melissa rode the same shuttle to E3 that we did, and Grandma shared her puke story of the previous day with our worried producer. Grandma laughed about it, so we laughed about it; knowing her type of "humor." When we arrived at the South gate of the convention center, there was already a line forming for those with Early Access Media passes to get into the show floor, which wouldn't open until 10:00am. We waited for Blair and the rest of the crew to arrive sitting in the ESA's private lounge eating bagels, only we didn't really know it was the ESA's private lounge until a few recognizable executives walked into the room chatting amongst themselves. The old reporter's axiom is true; all you need to get into a place is a confident walk and some expensive looking equipment. In our defense, however, no one was kicking us out and our "confident walk" was one of wandering tourists- so no one could say we snuck in.
When Blair and the others arrived, we walked down the hall to the Media Hospitality Suite, which consisted of a large ballroom with coffee and danishes at the walls. As they traded different stories of weird goings on the previous day, I watched an on-camera interview for, I swear to god: a Christian-based DDR game called "Dance Praise."
Seeing that go down brought me that much closer to the phrase "alright, now I HAVE seen everything."
We all met at the MTV booth (sorry, the "MTV Presents Game Trailers" booth) and had some more coffee, because we would need it later goddammit. Grandma and I were sporting our G-Hole t-shirts when a couple of the Game Trailers folks noticed us standing around for no particular reason. There is something you should know about the MTV booth, it's was a nice little steel constructed set with a couple of couches, some studio lights on moderately heavy truss and a shitload of television screens displaying all things MTV Games and Game Trailers including, intermittently: The G-Hole, so Grandma's face had graced these screens repeatedly throughout the previous day, sometimes all of them simultaneously. Even so, these two suited-type individuals come up to us and ask "so are you fans of MTV?"
"Yes," was Grandma's reply, gesturing at the screens. "I work for MTV. That's me."
They both turn just in time to see this blast on every single screen in the booth:
Of course, it was censored then, but the effect was the same.
Grandma had that little smile she sometimes uses in such situations and they backed away slowly.
In an added bit of triumph, Grandma was recognized several times further that morning as she stood there; people running up to her saying "it's Grandma!!! I HAVE to get a picture with you if that's okay." Not only did it make Grandma feel good, it made her feel vindicated.
Our coffee break over, it was time to work.
Grandma: "Alright, so the first thing we did when we get on the floor is head over to Capcom, but on the way we stop at the Namco booth to score one of those Pac-Man hats that look like stuffed animal helmets. Namco was having pac-man tournaments throughout the day and I guess they were prizes. We told them about the show and asked if we could film a bit. They were promoting a cell-phone game of pacman, but to be honest, we really just wanted the hat. So I danced around like a lunatic with this Ms. Pacman hat and a giant Pacman cell-phone arm-thing for awhile and a bunch of people took pictures. I don't think they recognized any of us, they just saw some crazy old lady with a pac-man helmet screaming 'fuck yeah' and thought it would make a good picture, I guess. They included it in the last episode of the G-Hole if you really want to see it."
"DeadRising for the 360 was delayed recently. You know how I know? Because I was so fucking excited to play it at E3 and to hear a June release date, only to go to GameStop yesterday and have them tell me August sometime. I was so disappointed; this game looked cool as hell. Basically it looks like the plot to Dawn of The Dead; you're in a mall and there is a shitload of zombies after your ass. Like Condemned, you can pick up just about everything to use as a weapon, cash registers, vases, fire extinguishers, whatever you want. Unlike Condemned, though- they come at you all at once. I guess it was their way of saying 'look how many enemies we can get on screen at once without lag.' I know I keep comparing it to Condemend, but also it has a touchy sort of way to pick up weapons, you have to be pretty much on top of the thing to choose it, but it was a demo so whatever, it might be great when they finally release it. In fucking AUGUST. Anyway, it's for the 360, it's zombies, and it's Capcom. It's going to be awesome."
"I don't normally get excited about FPS's, so the two games that took me by surprise were Resistance: Fall of Man for the PS3, and Capcom's Lost Planet for the 360. Tim seems to think it was because the whole demo reminded me of Hoth, but I think it was because it was so damn sharp. It wasn't just another Call of Duty clone, it had it's own style."
"The only other thing I really enjoyed at Capcom's booth was Okami. The demo I know has been out for awhile, so you probably all know about it. This game looks beautiful. You play a dog, and the whole game is like some painted dream. It's hard to describe; I know a lot of the game deals with Japanese legends, including the symbolic meaning of Japanese calligraphy. Okami is going to be released on the PS2 soon, and it's another one I absolutely have to play."
"I'm kind of worried about Square now. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about a lot that we saw at the booth, but there are certain things that make me wonder. Like- here we are at E3, the biggest opportunity for press coverage, and Square Enix has little signs everywhere on the booth and kiosks saying 'absolutely no photography.' Maybe they're flaunting their fame, maybe they're worried people will get pissed at last minute changes (like the difference between the trailer for FFVIII back in the day and the final version cutscene at the beginning of the game), I don't know what it is, but it was also on things like the demo for Final Fantasy XII, which confused me because it was the same demo that came with my copy of Dragon Quest VIII. If everyone can go pick it up at the store right now anyway, why the photography ban?
Anyway, the main reason I'm worried is because it seems like they've begun milking every successful franchise they've ever had instead of focusing on new creations. Then, to make up for it, they start doing it to their new games before they even come out. Now, I know that doesn't SOUND like it makes any sense. But look.. First of all, they treated us really nice. They knew I had problems getting up the stairs to see the movie presentation of their new games. They actually held the line back for a moment while I went up the back stairs. Then they let us sit wherever we wanted, put our stuff down, get comfortable, and then they let everyone else in. I felt kinda bad holding everyone else back like that. Then they started the movie. Apparently, there are a TON of games based from characters in Final Fantasy VII coming out soon. I loved Final Fantasy VII. It remains my favorite all time game. Advent Children was a great movie, I actually got into it; but god damn- Dirge of Cerebus? And what the fuck made them think making a game starring that character everyone forgets: 'Zack,' the black-haired bizzaro-Cloud, would be a good idea? So this goes on for a while. Final Fantasy VII this and that.. a trailer for Advent Children (in English, which freaked me out, because I have the Japanese sub version), some dumb looking cell-phone game, Final Fantasy XII (in English, which freaked me out, only because I saw the Japanese sub version on IGN awhile ago) and then it hit everyone: Final Fantasy Fucking Thirteen.
I know it was mostly pre-rendered bullshit, right down to the little HP numbers flashing above enemies in a slow-mo fight with the badass looking main-character chick (who didn't seem to have a party of other characters with her oddly enough) but it was GORGEOUS pre-rendered bullshit. You have to understand, that with a lot of these trailers at Square, it was some flashed poetry or some shit, an intense looking close-up render of some skin and maybe a glove or something, followed by either hard J-Rock or an orchestra. Final Fantasy XIII still looked beautiful. I was caught up in the hype anyway.
That is, until I found out there was two more Final Fantasy XIII's coming out too. The next two trailers were for those games, and now I don't know what the fuck is going on. Is THAT what they plan on doing from now on? Just release a ton of games based off each character in each game? If Final Fantasy XIII, any of the three of them for that matter, end up like FF X-2, I'm going to cry."
Sega of America
"One word: CHROMEHOUNDS"
"I think the trailer that made me laugh the hardest at E3 was the one for Rayman for the Wii. The one they showed after E3 that's circulating around is different, showing a family watching as evil bunnies show up to hurt Rayman, then the kids grab a Wii controller and ...you know. Kill the bunnies. I thought it was interesting that the old dude picks up the controller at the end, but I don't think they're reaching out to us, it's more of a 'hey, everyone likes to kill bunnies' sort of thing. Anyway, it's interesting. I would have liked to have seen Rayman up in the Wii booth the day before.
Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway... what can I say, it's another Brothers in Arms game, can't go wrong there, although I'm sure some people are getting a little sick of the WWII genre. Also, I think I heard some press person refer to it on camera as 'Band of Brothers', but I didn't have to heart to correct him. I mean, the sign is right fucking behind you.
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas got a lot of attention at the booth, not because of any particularly new and awesome screenshots, but because of the chick dancing around in front of the exhibit. That said, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent really DOES look sweet, although it's in a different style than the others in the series, so some people might freak when they see that.
But then: ASSASSIN'S CREED. FUCK YES. If there will be a single reason to save for a PS3, it will be this game.
We booked out of South Hall and headed down to West Hall for a little bit and meet up with Martin (the video game pianist). He sent us an e-mail saying he'd be at the BradyGames booth and that we should drop by. When we got there, it was pretty obvious he was busy doing his thing, so we hung back thinking we would wait for him to take a break. The BradyGames booth was kind of depressing, it was a couple of pillars with various strategy guides on display. I wondered what they thought we'd do, browse through them and say out loud 'oh THAT's how you get through that level!' No one was asking the reps anything because, let's face it- everyone was interested in Martin, not some strategy guides to games they had already played. The man just didn't stop playing though, so we called Annie to see what she was up to.
We went back to South Hall to meet up. She was working within the Microsoft booth for Obsidian, and she got me to play a bit of the game... but you know me and PCs. I'm trying, though... I might get there. NWN2 looked cool, I just don't know what the fuck I'm doing. We hung out with Annie and the Penny-Arcade guys Mike and Jerry. They really are as sweet and nice as everyone says. Jerry even recognized Zork Thompson ver 1.0! If you want to see a picture of all of us together, Annie's got one right here. If you look close in the picture, you can even see the Ms. Pac-man head we snagged earlier. It was the best way I could think of to end a day at E3.
It was soon after our meeting at the Microsoft booth with Annie that my cell rang. It was the man his own-self, Vic Ireland. We discussed a time and a place to meet outside South Hall so we could all go to dinner. I stepped outside with Grandma for a well needed cigarette. In these two days, we hadn't seen many booths yet, only because a lot of the time filming has set up time, waiting for appointments, etc.,.. Tomorrow would be her day and mine to explore to our heart's content.
We went to the spot where we thought Vic might be waiting, but couldn't find him. We were back on the phone trying to find each other in the small triangle of space in front of the escalators by South Hall, when finally there was that moment of "oh, so that's what they look like in person" for both of us. Vic had his whole posse with him, including Working Designs staff, family (Latrice, by the way- you're awesome), "the boyfriend" as he was known, and a dude who had only heard of Old Grandma Hardcore, not knowing what quite to expect (note: making tapes for a future radio broadcast is certainly more enjoyable while tanked, eh Chad? ;)
First thing about Vic: he and Grandma got along great. He would help her into the SUV, help her out; he was patient with her when she couldn't quite hear a question, that sort of thing. He was an all around great guy. Generous as well. I won't even try to imagine what Grandma and my steak cost the poor man, but he wouldn't let us pay, there wasn't anything else on the menu, and I don't think our per diem would have covered it.
Second thing about Vic, and this is big news for Working Designs fans: the man and his team are working as hard as they can to get back in action, in a reincarnated form: GAIJINWORKS. There isn't much at the website yet, but you could tell just talking to these guys that they intently had pride in what they do. That kind of thing is difficult to fake; and this was sincere. But you didn't hear that from me. In fact, forget I said anything at all. Who knows why they had business cards that read Gaijinworks?! It could be for any number of reasons ;)
After dinner, I offered to get a round of drinks to keep the night going a bit. We first went to the spinning lounge above The Westin Hotel. I bolted from the parking garage to the lounge of the hotel, confusing differently colored sets of elevators and stairways that only went to certain levels; all the while my bladder building pressure. I remember thinking "Pissing myself would probably be a downer for a perfect evening." Luckily, I somehow made it, and bolted back upstairs, again, confusing differently colored elevators and stairwells until finally meeting up with the rest of the group. We sat down at the almost imperceptably spinning loft lounge, ate a couple peanuts, accepted the wine list, looked over it a couple times, got up, and went back downstairs.
WHO THE FUCK PAYS $10 FOR A MOTHERFUCKING GLASS OF COCA COLA?!
We settled on a comfy bar at the bottom of the hotel that had much more accommodating prices for my budget (I'm not a cheap person, I'm just poor, you see.) For some reason, the drinks downstairs were much less expensive than the drinks upstairs. It must cost more to ship the liquor 9 more floors or something.
We must have talked with those guys for a couple hours. It was great, and I wasn't too smashed where I was too sick and too stupid to recognize what this meant for Grandma. She listened to stories about China and Japan; the traffic, the toilets, the food; we shared our press experiences, it was just very, very cool for her. None of these people were assholes; nobody was kissing her ass or giving the fake smiles of which we saw from so many at E3 (not from industry folks, mind you, more from the people working the booths.) For her, an evening relaxing with Vic, Ken, and everyone there was made it all worth it. The day spent with Annie, meeting the guys who showed Jack Thompson gamers are great people, seeing Martin gather the crowds, seeing Vic and the team talk with excitement about new projects... she described it as going to a Thanksgiving Dinner and hearing that everyone in the family is doing alright. It was as though they had shared the same experience she had for the past year.
She had a blast.
And she still had another day of E3 to go.