Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pre-E3-itis, Second Verse

It is so funny to watch the game websites and forums in the week following up to E3. All the big studios drop all their big plans in the weeks (and final days) before the actual show itself, seems to be the trend - isn't this one of the big reasons why the show's format got altered in the first place, supposedly (competing with one another for attention in the midst of overstimulation?) With that in mind, it's notable that there doesn't seem to be a lot of hubbub for anyone to be raving about. Sega and EA both have (relatively) lackluster showings. Nintendo seems pretty tight-lipped, I guess we can expect to see some semi-interesting Wii titles from them next week but I doubt anyone's expectations are so high (as noted in my last blog post, "things are rather quiet these days..") Unusual to hear about High Voltages upcoming games (it's been awhile since they made some noise?) Activision dribbled out a couple of early tracklisting morsels for their Guitar Hero franchise, but really is anyone THAT thrilled about some new tracks (in this age of DLC) - as well, the new Tony Hawk game's been getting a little press, though it's more of a lot of "what? they're thinking wa-what?" when considering their new balance-board remniscient peripheral and lofty (rumored) price-tag. The new DJ Hero Turntable popped up as well recently, no surprise there, I think a lot of folks are waiting to get their hands on it at E3 (any chance?) before it gets written-off as "too late to the Beatmania party.." Well, we will see.. Anyway, they got Call of Duty, which will sel no matter what..

But, yeah, all is quiet. I don't think anyone expects to see much noteworthy out of DS or PSP, and I doubt there's much more expectation for Sony to come strong with (potentially powerful) hype for MAG (I love that name!) XBox is getting long inthe tooth now, if anyone's got a chance of showing up with somthing crazy I guess it would be them - but they always leak their stuff notoriously early. All we got in our sights is the HD Zune - which is a lot, mind you, but it's still gonna play second fiddle to iPhone if you ask me, unless they do something particularly clever and outrageous.

Yeah, I may be full of a lot of hot air, but I have been watching these markets for awhile now. Again, it's a tight economy and the release slate for this year is scant - also lots of previous big players (like THQ and Midway) are getting spanked badly, while guys like Microsoft, Sony and even the all-powerful EA have been closing shops and letting people go quite a bit in the past years' time - include the already-wilting Sega in that list (and I am a Sega fanboy, mind you!), it's a telling sign if there's not a few more half-assed Sonic games showing on this years roster (yeah, there's a Winter Games one, but otherwise..). And does anybody remember a company called Atari??

So I am declaring this, the E3 where it supposedly returns to it's former glory, the Year of the Casuals. The year of the Stifled Development. Expect to see a lot of gusts of smoke and disappointment. So hilarious that they pulled in the reigns for E3 just as the whole industry was getting incendiary, Wii and PS3 and 360 were raging in their freshness and youth and money was being poured full-bore into development everywhere, studios were overambitiously augmenting their team sizes ("why make 2 hits when we can just as easily churn out four?!!")

Well, we'll see some interesting iPhone stuff. Anyway don't fret, as the economy buttons up (I hope!) we'll see better conventions in the future. For now, just enjoy the love-in.. Hopefully, I will be able to find a still-existing Kentia Hall, where I can play Paperboy and Galaga (and Scramble on the Vectrex!) while listening to 8-Bit Weapon. Sounds good enough to me.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Hot Damn Applesauce, how did THIS happen? It's excatly one week to go 'till the Electronic Games Expo once again descends upon our horrible, innocuous town..

It's a shock really, I've known it was coming for some time now (waiting for it with baited breath) as it's quite a symbol for many things in my life. A deadline, certainly - but also a true milestone, in each of the years since I have moved out here (nearly 10, now!) E3 was effectively put on ice for the last couple of years, reduced to less than a pathetic shadow of it's former grandeur, as it were - I am quite surprised to see that it's supposedly going to be a huge mosh pit of videogaming madness once again, I have to admit.

I am actually - NOT really looking forward to it, as opposed to my usual attitude. Right now is not really a god time for me to be participating in such insanity, I am really really busy and also really really broke. In fact, I am feeling quite antisocial as well - if it were up to me, I wouldn't mind if they could somehow postpone it for another month or two (that'd make so many things SO much easier). But, of course, the world seldom works that way, so too bad right?

Anyway E3 is usually a celebratory time for me, when I get to go out feeling like "Mr Cool Guy" and getting recklessly drunk in public and making all sorts of scene. This time it will be different, I am sure I will knock back a few at the bar, but really what I want to do is scour the landscape, document as much as I can, I am much more business-minded these days then I was several years ago. With games, the proof is in the pudding, and there will be a whole lot of pudding on display in a few days. It's overwhelming and exhausting to think about, in advance. All I can hope is that some good comes of it, for me..

Things have been tremendously busy for me in the past months. I have been working on several plans with a few different groups of people. Much of it has been back-and-forth-nebulous, but enough of it has powered me to keep going forward. I'll spit some of it out into the world shortly, to whatever consequence.. I am very looking forward to that point, when you cut something loose and truly "get the ball rolling." It's so hard to build up to that initial point, it sounds quite doable on paper but the reality is often that there's so much middling BS to mind as well that things tend to get a little messed up here and there. At this point in my life, in ANY project, I really come to expect it. Still, without speaking too whispy, I will say that I have been exercising my creative muscles quite a lot lately and it's making me feel quite competent. Now, so long as my nerves can hold out in the meantime..

The game world is - well, it's there. This has been a rather quiet spring, leading up to a customarily quiet summer. There's no huge tentpoles sticking out for the other ass-end of the year, 2009 is such a wash compared to an oversaturated 2008 (itself an orgasmic followup to an also hectic 2007). Hell year-on-year it's been this gargantuan, unstoppable, quite ridiculous really. And now here we are at the plateau - gears is behind us, resistance, rock bands and guitar heroes, halo this and that, whatever else it is that sony makes - wii is following up with decent titles these days but their luster has finally worn (no mario kart or zelda these days!) What do we get this year? GTA DLC, Bioshock 2 and.. um. I guess Modern Warfare 2 will clean up at the end of the year. No slouch, but something punchy is missing. A LOT is missing.

I have taken my usually-keen gaze away from the console arena a bit and I've been watching the downloads, the mobile stuff.. not that it's all wacky, but it's at least a little noteworthy. iPhone is the big catchphrase these days, it's no surprise, it is still trying to find it's way as a unique platform (more than enough support is there, it has it's own crazy market, the tech is quite formidable) but the "gamer" market is not quite absolutely embracing it just yet, it's still sort of a glorified Gameboy. I am waiting for someone to come and clean up shop and take over, they are really sitting on a goldmine (and I wonder how long they'll be able to fly in the face of the competitors, specifically Microsoft with it's endless deep pockets and eyes set squarely on "taking over the world of ANY KIND OF OS and INTERFACE DEVICE")

Man, I am so tired. So much thinking, there's a lot of things on my mind these days. I can no longer just sit back ad let some higher-up make the decisions, and hope that they don't trickle down and ruin my life (again). I am trying to be much more proactive, it's a necessity. I will always feel like such an outsider in this spiteful industry, I guess there's something to that then.. Anyway, back to work.

Friday, May 1, 2009

hello from the great beyond

well, it has been ages since I have posted on my "game industry blog," how's that then? Things are alright, it's been a few months that I am out of work now. All things considered, overall it is not bad. I am exceptionally busy, probably as much as I usually am during the thickest of it - trying to maintain my nerves as there's just so much volume to deal with lately. I feel like I finally understand how a producer feels, in some regards - just spending the day on the phone with this guy or that fellow, trying to see where everything is at, trying to keep some cover on the documentation of everything, trying to plan backups for A, B and C, and essentially trying to be the glue that holds everything together in some fashion. And, trying to be creative and productive on TOP of that (and also take out the trash, do the laundry). Hey! Yesterday I went to the gym! It was the first time in weeks.. sigh..

Despite my frenetic pace, I am in a good place. There's a lot of progress going on, it's not by any means smooth but I am certainly getting a lot of things taken care of. I am feeling ridiculously creative right now - since I am no longer quite so pigeonholed (and feeling powerless in that way), my brain is free to spit things out in a forum where it's actually useful for a change. I am getting a lot of valid ideas on the table, some useful, others which lead to usefulness, in some ways. It is very invigorating. Sure, I am broke and stressed, but at least I feel happier for a change..

The game world is pretty mellow these days, unsurprisingly. Not much new is out, not much is on the horizon. No surprise for this year, truly an in-between year in the Annals of Game History. I played the demo for Bionic Commando last night (the next-gen version) - they put out a multiplayer demo. Not my thing, but then, I am no multiplayer combatant. Seems fine for what it is, and some people like it. I think when the full game releases, it will look alright!

I am spending a lot of time watching the iPhone scene lately. very, very interesting market. Man, Apple are such stalwarts, everything they do is always so zigzaggy and stubborn but - damn them, they ALWAYS figure it out somehow!! I have much to day about iPhone.. for now I gotta get a move on..