E3 Show Floor General
May 2004



My show actually started at ETC, where Doug was giving a talk on simulation and learning in games. The training and military metaphors blended right into the actual expo.


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I find the FPS war titles spooky. I read Enders Game, too, you know. Some of my favorite things from this year's display: the objectives from Shell Shocked (basically kill kill kill kill.. oh, and find some stuff if you want), and the 12 year old working the America's Army booth.



I also find the cops titles kind of creepy. At The Shield stand, all the booth operators were demoing a "twist his arm and then bash his head" move (is there a name for this in the law enforcement community?).

Despite the overtly heterosexual posters, the whole scene had a homoerotic vibe. At each controller, a pair of guys giggled and cheered as the muscle-bound hero kneed crooks from behind.

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And what is up with the eyes on this guy's avatar? Gah!




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Japanese titles still rocked my world - looks and gameplay (novel AND tried-but-true). And it was SO cool to see Katamari being localized for US shipping. GO GO GO Namco!


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Odama, the military-strategy pinball game was probably my favorite of the show. Totally odd, really problematic in some ways, but there's a lot of cool potential. You manipulate your soldiers and objects in the field to make opportunities for ball movement and troop movement. The goal is to defeat the war god guy at the back of the screen. How nifty!

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Overall, the simple interfaces for games in the Nintendo booth (even when they required possessing multiple characters or making noise to do platform jumps and combat) were refreshing compared to some other offerings. Many games lost me with bad UI, disparate/unnecessary game elements, or stiff designs.


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There were exceptions to the Japanese/Nintendo = good rule.  Metal Gear's latest was philosophical, as usual - but felt tedious to play. Watching crocodiles turn into food units didn't do it for me. Viewtiful Joe 2 was also disappointing. It felt just like more of the same, and was still tuned to be too difficult for a show floor setting.


But check out the info sheets on the Tabula Rasa displays. Heads up, brah! Your Chi is falling!!