E3Expo Retrospective of 2006

The SimHQ E3Expo Team give their personal impressions of the weeks hits and misses.


by Jim “Hornit” Campisi

Aftermath

Row thirty nine, seat delta. At least it’s an Isle seat. We’re bumping along at flight level three seven zero somewhere over northern Texas or southern Oklahoma. Cruising along the upper stratosphere my mind is wandering though the latest experiences of another E3. This is my third trip to the whacky, loud, and wonderful world of the Electronic Entertainment Exposition. Each year seems to have it’s own character, but at the same time, the overall experience is always familiar and exciting.

This year was a bit different than previous years. It was a snap to register, things were laid out logically, and there were less crowds than in past E3′s I’ve attended. I think it was the best one I have seen. They do need more folks working the registers in the food courts though. The lines were excruciatingly long!

The Staples Center in LA comes alive with throngs of people who make their living selling games and gadgets to the world. I don’t know the numbers but I think many would be surprised at the sea of humanity which descends on South, West, and Kentia Halls in the sprawl that is the L.A. Convention Center. For those who don’t know what E3 is, it’s difficult to explain. It’s kind of like a roller coaster ride. You’re not too sure about it before you try it for the first time, but once you’ve ridden, you can’t wait to get on it again. E3 is a lot like that. Anyone who is even remotely connected or interested in PC and console gaming considers this almost a yearly pilgrimage. The industry shows up in force. The latest technology from all corners of the gaming world bursts onto the floors of the convention center halls. All of the big players are here. Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, Nintendo, Namco, Konami, the list goes on and on. All bring their latest wares in hard and soft versions. It’s place to showcase the future both near and far. For gamers, it’s nirvana. This years E3 — while still dominated by the aura of Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo consoles — had a good showing for the PC gaming crowd.

E3 is a feast for the senses as much as it is for the mind. Sound and light pound you from all sides while in the main halls. Nary a moment goes by that does not find you invaded by noise, light, and bodies. This year seemed a bit less crowded to me which is a great thing. More control on who gets in the door saves us the crushing lines and crowds when attempting to get anywhere. I know in years passed this was a problem, so kudos to the planners on this aspect of the convention.

This year I think I am taking away a few things from E3 which are a bit different than in the past. My main areas of interest includes shooters and flight simulations. This year I find myself mildly optimistic that things are finally turning around with regard to flight simulations. Microsoft has finally announced the release of it’s potential mega hit Flight Simulator X. It’s been three years in development, a bit longer than the normal cycle, but it’s nice to finally see and fly the sim after the hiatus. Oleg Maddox debuted his new project in the form of Storm of War: The Battle of Britain, and believe me, no one is going to be disappointed. I’ll be happy with those two titles alone sometime around the end of this year. There are a few other things which made me drool, but I can’t tell you what they are, or I will have to kill you! Suffice it to say, we are all going to be pleasantly, if not dramatically surprised about what is coming next year.

One other area I’d like to comment on before I settle down for a neck breaking nap. I’m a bit of a budding RTS fan and what I saw at this years E3 has me positively salivating. Two new titles really captured my attention. World in Conflict and Company of Heroes. They both finally bridge the gap between old fashion RTS games and modern state-of-the-art kick ass graphics 3D shooters. It finally looks like a real world you fight in, not some flat 2D pixilated mess. For me, it’s what matters and it makes the game so much more immersive and real it’s hard to describe. I’m really looking forward to these titles and all the graphical goodness they will bring. World in Conflict had a demo running and I watched the most realistic depiction of a tactical nuclear device I have ever seen. It’s going to be very good.

One of the best things about E3 is the synergy of putting publishers, developers, artists, and sales people all in the same arena. It means more and better titles and platforms for us. One thing you take away from here is the concept that the games push the hardware. As each reaches new heights we get to see the benefits. For us at SimHQ this melding of the minds is beneficial to all. We get to see what’s coming, but at the same time, with a bit of credibility, we get to hopefully have a bit of influence on the developers and publishers. They do listen and this makes it all really worthwhile. SimHQ definitely has a niche with most of the developers who work on the games we like. It’s really rewarding to know they are listening in.

  • What am I looking forward to? Wow, that’s a difficult question but I’ll give it a shot.
  • I’m really jazzed about physics in games, both hardware and software. This is the next big thing in my opinion.
  • All of the latest RTS titles which don’t look like RTS games.
  • FSX is going to knock our socks off in the flight simming world.
  • Oleg Maddox’s Battle of Britain is looking phenomenal and I patiently await this latest masterpiece.
  • The CPU developments just over the horizon.
  • Lead Pursuit’s next big project.
  • Crysis, man what a cool looking game and storyline!
  • Battlefield 2142, who can say no to Battlefield with Mechs?

The final thought I have about this year I could sum up in one basic concept. This is the first time I have come away from E3 marveling at ALL the games graphical capabilities. Not just a few here and their. Everywhere you look now you find CGI type quality and photo realistic terrain, sky, and water. Physical calculations bring us more realistic damage effects, explosions, and things which directly affect the realism in all our games and sims. Characters move in realistic fashion and humans finally really look like humans. Our games now have the hardware to run this goodness and the developers are taking full advantage. It’s a great time to be a gamer, and E3 is the Mecca for all of us. If you get the chance to attend this wonderful phenomenon, I highly recommend it. It opens your mind to the possibilities of our gaming world.

We’re somewhere over central Louisiana at the moment, and before my battery dies I want to publicly thank some of the finest guys around. Guod, Chunx, and 20mm. They tirelessly worked around the clock to bring you the best coverage of this event you’ll ever see. I consider it an honor to be associated with these guys and I had a great time, despite the walking, the hunger, the typing, and the dearth of booth babes (NOT!). Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to work alongside you fine gentleman!

I look forward to next year. E3 2007 awaits!

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