To say that everyone at Skatter Tech is excited for next week’s coverage at E3 2010 would be an understatement. Every year around this time, madness ensues for journalists as the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) gets closer and closer. With so many phone calls, email responses, travel arrangements, and show floor meetings to arrange, we can sometimes forget just how exciting our time spent in Los Angeles is going to be. E3, little brother to CES, is the perfect place to see the future of everything entertainment unfold. Skatter Tech will be ready for everything from live blogging to conducting on-the-spot interviews in order to get the hottest announcements from the biggest corporations attending the expo. We promise that our readers will have a lot to look forward to this upcoming week starting the second Skatter Tech eagerly arrives on the show floor. Here are some of the big announcements our team is eager to report on!
Dominic Raad Senior Gaming Reporter
I’m guessing it’s no big surprise to say that close to everything will be in 3D this year. 3D movies, 3D televisions, 3D gaming; hell, even Japan is officially releasing 3D porn. Besides hoping for all humanity those last two don’t mix, I’m really excited to see not only how 3D gaming has developed, but how controlling 3D gaming has evolved. In other words, I want to see first-hand how the concept of a “3D controller” has grown since the Nintendo Wii successfully introduced it. At this years E3 Expo I hope to learn more about Nintendo’s 3DS project as well as demo Microsoft’s Project Natal. The 3DS, besides having a ton of rumors behind it, hopes to deliver on next-gen gaming in a way it’s predecessors weren’t able to. The 3DS will sport a brand new (possibly better than the Wii’s ) graphics engine and an innovative interface that will utilize the handheld in an unexpected way. Unfortunately, I have just as much of an idea of what this means as you do. Even though the idea of a console being integrated into a handheld with possible home-theater capabilities is hard to imagine, especially all in 3D (no glasses required), Nintendo plans on reassuring gamers that this is a feasible victory on the next-gen gaming front. I plan on live blogging Nintendo’s press conference Tuesday morning and seeing if the 3DS can be the dramatic change to the handheld market that gamers will be willing to accept.
Project Natal, on the other hand, is going to deliver where the Wii failed to, in the sense that it will completely integrate human interaction with gameplay. While this “add-on hardware” for the Xbox 360 console is rumored to cost a whopping $150, it’s tough to call whether or not it’ll be worth it. The idea is that a player can control any game, sport, party, or even fighting, entirely with physical movement. Hardcore gamers may find it tough to imagine playing a full-blown RPG in its entirety while violently swinging their arms all over the place, and the idea of having Project Natal exclusive games altogether makes the value a questionable one. First and foremost at E3 this year I’ve got to get my hands on Project Natal and put it to the test to see just how responsive and fun using it can be. Microsoft is giving Project Natal its own press conference Tuesday afternoon so I’m eager to see how the latest model plays out. So basically I won’t shut up about video games, and more so the evolution of consoles leading up to E3 2010. I can’t help but wonder what Sony is going to announce besides the development on the PS3 motion control, and I’m sure all three gaming giants have more up their sleeves. What I can promise is that I won’t be leaving the convention center until I get my hands on Marvel v Capcom 3.
Alex Harvey-Gurr Lead Content Editor
I’ve always had a soft spot for music, being a classically trained violinist myself, so I was understandably very excited when I heard that the new Rock Band 3 was going to be at E3 debuting new instruments and game mode. The web has been buzzing for months now about the new Rock Band 25-key keyboard, which adds a fifth dimension to the addicting game and expands the soundtrack. Developers have also introduced a new optional pro mode playable on guitar, drums, and keyboard which is supposed to emphasize a more realistic rock experience. This is going to be done by making players on the keyboard use all 25 keys instead of just five, making it much more like an actual piano, and by having guitar players play one of two new guitar controllers that force the player to move up and down the neck as if it were an actual guitar. To put this into perspective, one of these controllers has seventeen frets, six strings, and a whopping total of 102 buttons for the player to navigate. This will undoubtedly make many fans happy, as it not only increases the difficulty of the game but also is a better simulation of a guitar and keyboard, making it easier for players to learn to play the actual instruments.
What I find so exciting about all of this is that Rock Band developers have found a way to expand their game in a way that promotes music education with its players. The great thing about music games like Rock Band is that they actually teach players about music, things like keeping time and different rhythms, even how to more or less play a real instrument like the drums. Developers kept this in mind when creating Rock Band 3, and expanded it in ways to further simulate real instruments so that players can have a more “true” rock band experience if they want to.
Sahas Katta CEO + Founder
I play video games, but I by no means consider myself a true gamer. I’m rather interested in the direction gaming technology has gone these past few years and what’s to come next. After CES earlier this year, it was clear that the production of HDTVs relies heavily on the hopes of 3D technologies. The household television is no longer just for playing back movies in the comfort of your own home, but gaming too. While those 3D goggles are somewhat nuisance, if games can successfully feature creative and intuitive sequences as a new concept, it may help push the technology into our living rooms faster. Consoles no longer rely solely on high performance but are becoming an essential part of our home entertainment centers. New web services such as Netflix, YouTube, Pandora and others are beginning to reach these dedicated consoles. It’s a vital addition for Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony especially since newly emerging competitors such as Google TV, Boxee, and others are paving their way to offer an all-in-one web entertainment solution.
I also hope to hear about further social networking features. Xbox Live and PlayStation Network offer some connectivity to share information through Facebook, but that’s about the full extent of it. There’s not much true collaboration with friends, family, or “internet buddies” outside of the respective console’s online platform. While games such as Farmville are by no means actual video games, it’s still a huge success due to its addicting social nature. Having a deeper level of social integration will keep gamers tied to their console even more. Such a level of social interaction can be found on smart phones, which themselves are offering a new home for gaming. While portable consoles such as the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP were considered revolutionary, there are already a significant amount of games for platforms such as the Apple iPhone and iPad. Microsoft is even integrating Xbox Live features into Windows Phone 7 Series. These are just a few things, but it’s an exciting time for gamers, regardless of how you game.
Chris Tung Tech Reporter
If I could go to E3, the only thing I would have to check out is Little Big Planet 2. Admittedly, I am a Sony fan boy, but post launch, Sony and its third party developers were releasing subpar games that did not grab my attention. I had a $600 device with absolutely nothing to play. Then seemingly out of nowhere, a little Sack Boy began crowding up all of my news websites and started taking the world by storm. Within a matter of months, Little Big Planet became the only thing I wanted to play. And once it was released it was the only thing I did play.
Unlike the hundreds of games that I have played to death, Little Big Planet did not draw me in for the story (although there is one), the graphics (although it is quite beautiful), or innovative gameplay (which it really is). It was the thrusting-of-responsibility from Media Molecule to the player that pulled me into the game. The ability to customize your Sack Person and throw him into a level that you or someone else in the Little Big Planet community created was an experience that no other game provided. Anyone could pick up Little Big Planet and make the next great level, and going online every week to see what new designers could come up with on a limited 2-dimensional platform was something I did and still look forward to.
Now Media Molecule is working on the sequel, and all I can say is that I am giddy with delight. If the teaser trailer reveals anything, it’s that Media Molecule is taking the idea of user development that I loved in the first game and expanding it in ways I never could have imagined. Instead of making a level on a 2D plane, the trailer hints that users could create entire games any way they want. From the trailer, the players Sack Boy hops into a plane and has to shoot objects in a moment reminiscent of Space Invaders. In the first Little Big Planet, the only “games” that could be really made were dodge-the-falling-objects or defend-the-castle type games. Now, it seems like Media Molecule is opening up the gates and allowing the users’ creativity to become truly unchained. No longer called a platform game, Little Big Planet 2 is being coined as a platform for games, which I think is the most accurate description of the possibilities that LBP2 will give us. With Little Big Planet 2, I truly believe our idea of what I video game can and should do will be changed forever.
Sharath Shroff General Manager
For me, the most exciting thing about E3 is getting to see OnLive. About a year ago, OnLive made claims that it was creating a service that will let the company stream games to its users. At first this may seem odd: why would you want to stream games through the Internet? OnLive has lots and lots of servers at its disposal and it’s putting all of them into rendering the games. This means that individuals won’t have to own high-end PCs or other consoles in order to play their favorite games. If OnLive is able to render everything on its massive servers, then something as small as a netbook or even a smart phone will be able to play games such as Crysis that still give high end PCs problems. Next is the problem of lag. OnLive has stated that it has developed a way to deliver lag-less or near lag-less game play. If OnLive can indeed deliver on its promises, then we may see a whole new era of video games, one without the console or expensive gaming machines.
Although Star Wars: The Old Republic will not ship until 2011, I hope that Bioware will give us some new information or game play to hold us over until next year. The Old Republic takes place three thousand years before the events of the Episode IV, V, and VI. The Old Republic website is being updated periodically to give short history lessons about the lead-up to the events in the game. The videos, called Timelineare a combination of an audio recording and a comic, and are extremely entertaining. Hopefully there will be more supplementary content to keep our mind off the almost one year until the game is released.
Jeremy Collins Social Media
I know consoles are all about the games they come with, but it’s about time we saw some new hardware at this E3. What I’m looking forward to most is Nintendo’s upcoming 3DS. Nintendo has even admitted that it is in the works and coming soon, so I dare say it will likely make an appearance at their press conference. Supposedly, the 3DS will be successor to the 6-year-old original NDS, and is rumored to incorporate goggle-free 3D technology as well as superior graphics, potentially better than the Wii. 3D on a portable game system? I have my doubts too, but I believe that if any gaming giant can pull it off, Nintendo can. The Wii isn’t perfect, but we all have to admit Nintendo was the first to successfully change the traditional controller and actually sell it.
Like a book or movie, we can immerse ourselves in stories out-of-this-world when we play games. Each year, new technology brings true immersion that much closer. Some of us may shake our heads at 3D or motion controls, but it gets better every year, and who doesn’t want a new way to experience games. The 3DS is a perfect example of a gaming technology that has potential to drastically change the way we control games, and who knows, maybe even the way we love them.
Manish Mamidanna Tech Reporter
Hype, speculation, and a constant stream of rumors are all staple attributes of E3 , the video game industry’s biggest annual trade show. Ever since E3 split off from CES in 1995 it has been known for its extravagant press conferences, and has in its own way redefined how video game companies market and announce their products/content. Over the past few years at E3, we’ve seen the introduction of the next generation of consoles like the Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3, and we’ve also witnessed the steady evolution of video games itself. This year continues the hype from previous years with a variety of new games lined up, as well as rumors and demonstrations of newer technologies. To keep up with each and every announcement made at the show would be near impossible; however, there are a few announcements and rumors that are certainly worth mentioning.
Being a long time Nintendo fan, I was certainly excited when Nintendo announced Zelda: The Twilight Princess for the Wii a few years back. Twilight Princess took many of the things I really enjoyed about the Zelda series and built on them successfully. It did have its limitations, however, with poor textures and the occasional “old generation” feel. These issues stemmed from the fact that it was originally developed for the Gamecube rather than for the Wii, which itself does not boast graphical prowess. For most gamers like myself, the experience was just fine due to nostalgia. Since the release of Twilight Princess, I’ve been counting the days waiting for when Nintendo would make significant announcements about a new Zelda game in the works, one built from the ground up for the Wii console. The wait is finally over because at this year’s E3 Nintendo will make announcements about the newest iteration of Zelda, a true next generation Zelda game. Not much is known about the exact context of those announcements nor the nature of the game, but Skatter Tech will be one of the first to find out. What is known, however, is that the game will take advantage of motion sensor capabilities of the Wii mote, which opens up new possibilities for gameplay. One thing that is certain is that this announcement will grab the attention of veteran Nintendo fans. Whether it’s just nostalgia or the hopes of something truly great for the Wii, I could not be more excited about it.