E3, oh my god, too much stuff...
XBox 360, Booth Babes, and Carne Asada.
Warrning!!!! This blog is being written without my normal spell checking and editing by my lovely wife, so please do not flame me on typos or grammar. If that is the type of thing you are looking for, move on, I am quite sure there a 1000 blogs being written tonight by E3 attendees and not a single one of them will have a spelling mistake.
After a year and a half in Michigan, yesterday I was brought back to California for the Holy Grail of game conventions: E3. I was born and raised in California and for the last 5 or so years, I would drive by the Convention Center, and think, "I would sure like to go there". Well now I have gone to E3, and let me give you my low-down.
First off, as an overview, E3 is loud. Not just kind of loud, not just 747 through a Megaphone loud, I mean really loud. Second, I would love for someone to give me $1 for every LCD or Plasma screen in the place. The 30 foot by 200foot Video wall in the Sony booth had to have cost more than my house and the 3 houses next door. Even a modest exhibit at E3 would equal the advertising budget of a very healthy small business. Third, There were more booth babes, (strippers mostly I would guess) than I have ever seen in my life and I used to go to Comdex when it was big. If you add all these things together, you get the perfect recipes for sensory overload.
One of the things I was excited to see, as were many, was the Xbox 360. Now I love my Xbox, and I will admit it is the only console I own, and I am pulling for the Xbox 360 to be a hit. With this in mind, I was a bit disappointed with their exhibit. I was not disappointed with what they were showing, but with that they were showing it at all. First, the games they were playing did not wow me, they all seemed like they could very well be Xbox one games. There was no stand out example, like Halo was with the launch of the Xbox 1. Second - and for me the thing that scares me - is that all the samples running at the show were running on Dev Kits. In this case, they were running on Mac G5's. Now the most powerful G5 that I am aware they are using is a dual G5 2.7. This means they have 2 G5 processors running at 2.7 Gigahertz. Not even dual core processors. The final box is going to have 3 Dual core 3.2 processors. With custom video and a lot of tweaking to make sure that everything works at an optimum. So all the samples they are showing are running on 1/4 the of the power of the xBox 360. This, in my opinion, is a mistake. First impressions are very important, and there will be a lot of people writing their blogs and reviews tonight saying how the games don't look that good, or have no obvious leap in quality. It will take a lot of work for Microsoft to get that first impression repaired. The last thing that scares me about this is that, as a developer I don't know how you can develop efficiently for a platform that is more powerful than what you are writing it on. This will add a lot of time to testing and tweaking. This leads me to believe that it will be quite a while before we see the xBox 360 do what it is really capable of. However, I will be looking forward to seeing it when it does.
One more note on the xBox 360: most gamers will not care too much about this, but from what I see I think the killer app of the 360 might just be the "digital hub" or whatever Microsoft is calling it. I for one will buy it for the games, but I would almost buy it for the "Media Extender". I will be able to place my 360 in my Rec Room and watch all the 300 or so hours of TV I have in my Media Center PC in my living room. As a video pack rat this makes me very excited!
On to the booth babes. It is absolutely amazing how many booths had beautiful, scantily clad women at them. Some were dressed in ridiculous costumes. There were several places where there were young ladies dancing for, as far as I could see, no reason what so ever. I think that someone could do quite an interesting study on the quality of the booth babe versus the quality of the games in the booth. From my non scientific observations it seems that the hotter the talent, the colder the product. I would study this more, but I think I might get kicked out of the Convention. Not to mention probably look like a perv. Perhaps the most extreme example I saw today was two beautiful, "Victorias Secret" quality women walking the convention in bra and panties and Angels wings, one wearing black with a corset and dark hair, one wearing white and blond. I am assuming they were there for some game with "angels" and "demons" or the like, but not a single one of the men with their eyes in the laps could have cared less. If they were selling Deer Hunter they would be impressed. The sad part is that after the first few shocking glances, the booth babes along with the ubiquitous Plasma screens just become part of the noise and you tune them out.
Now after quite a bit of this, and some nice surprises and some mild disappointments, I was lucky enough to go to my favorite Mexican food restaurant in California, to get my favorite meal in the world: El Torito's Carne Asada. I dragged the Stardock crew off to Pasadena and because I talked it up so much everyone tried the Carne Asada, and if no one told me it was the best meal of their life's, not a single complaint was made. Mine was perfect and I am ready to go back to the Mexican Food Wasteland that is Michigan, but I will have to make it back within a year, or I will wither away and die.
Tomorrow I will blog on some of the pleasant surprises I have seen.
Off to sleep. I need it.