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E3 2006 - Reflections

With E3 now a week, a country, and 2500 miles behind me, the exhaustion is finally gone, the craze abated, and I'm gradually regaining hearing in both ears. Life is returning to normal, and with each passing day, I start to wonder if it was all just a dream. But it wasn't. There's photo evidence to prove it, for one thing. More than that, though, there are enduring memories that will stick with me long after today.

Of course, I wasn't the only one representing Adventure Gamers at the show, so before everyone gets sick of me monopolizing the floor (probably much too late for that), let's hear directly from the rest the intrepid team that braved the perils of E3 alongside me.

 

Emily Morganti

 

This was my second E3, and it left me feeling optimistic. It's no secret that adventure games are thought of as a poor relation by many in the industry, and seeing so many adventures, shown by developers and publishers who were really enthusiastic about them, was very encouraging. The show had a really positive tone and the games we saw seemed to be of good quality, even more so than last year.

Even though we didn't get to see much of them, finding out that three new adventure games will be coming out for the Nintendo DS was exciting. Seeing Sam & Max up on the big screen at GameTap's booth was another highlight. Even before that, as Doug [Tabacco, AG webmaster] and I were walking out of the press room on Wednesday morning, one of the people working the door pointed at Doug's Sam & Max T-shirt and said, "Hey! I remember them!" Another small but nice moment occurred when I was playing Dreamfall outside Funcom's booth and a girl came up and stood next to me to watch. She said she's been meaning to get Dreamfall but hasn't had time yet. I asked if she'd played The Longest Journey and she said no, but that if she enjoyed Dreamfall she planned to play TLJ too. Then I handed her the controller and watched her play for a few minutes before I left the booth. It was a really tiny moment in the midst of a huge, loud show, but it made me feel good to know that someone else cared about Dreamfall. There are people out there who care about Sam & Max, and about Phoenix Wright. Adventure gaming seems to be finding its way back into mainstream popularity, at least to an extent. It makes me happy to know that new people are discovering this type of game for the first time--or rediscovering it after a long time.

The Nintendo DS is where it's at for great new adventures! We couldn't read the Japanese, but we understood the "touch" part.
Some dog and rabbity-thing are apparently making a comeback. The names vaguely rang a bell, so we took in the trailer premiering at GameTap's booth.

 

Christina Gmiterko

 

This week saw the end of another E3 convention -- three days of gaming, hanging out with friends, and meeting developers. An experience that is both equal parts exhaustion and fun.

One of the highlights for me was certainly learning about games that I knew little to nothing about heading in. Foremost of which was Lexis Numérique's upcoming game, Experience 112. While still extremely early in development, this game's unique premise has made it stand out in my mind as a definite title to watch. Both this title and Lexis Numérique's sequel to the thriller MISSING (In Memoriam), titled EVIDENCE, looked like two of the most promising adventure games at the show.

Another of the meetings worth noting was our first look at Broken Sword 4 in action, with Charles Cecil walking us through it. This is a game that is still very much a work in progress and it showed, but Charles' enthusiasm for it was infectious and I can't wait to see the finished product.

Above everything though, it was just great to spend time with my fellow Adventure Gamers staff members; catching up with the old and just getting to know the new. It's because of them that this whole E3 experience was survivable for me.

Next stop: the Orient Express. Unfortunately, Poirot would go nowhere near E3. Clearly he's smarter than us.
The weather is predicting Heavy Rain from Quantic Dream, but we thought the trailer was overcast.

Berian Williams

 

2006/2007 again looks like a very promising time for adventure games. Like last year, we saw a lot of new and interesting adventures, with a couple of old favourites thrown in for good measure. Of particular note to me were Undercover: Operation Wintersun and HCA – The Ugly Prince Duckling. Undercover is a serious game, set in World War II, which is a welcome change from the usual settings in recent years. HCA is a lighthearted comedy game, but one with another novel setting -- namely the life of the famous storyteller himself, intertwined with parts of his own fairy tales.

Something that might surprise people to know is that we saw just as many, if not more, adventure games this year than any year in recent memory. Adventures may be a niche genre, but that genre looks to be growing continually stronger, as current developers learn from their previous games and new developers are joining the ranks.

Adventures aside, though, E3 itself was a mixed bag. Long hours? Sure. Loud and obnoxious? Yup. A lot of fun, and worth all the hardships? Definitely. The combination of great company, the sheer "awesome!" factor of being at E3, and a day at Disneyland to recuperate (I mean, it's Disneyland, come on!) all add up to an unmissable experience, exhausting as it may be.

Overclocked, Undercover... dtp clearly has the genre covered from all angles.
To no one's surprise, Germany had a strong adventure presence at E3.

 

Deirdra Kiai

 

Sometime shortly after joining Adventure Gamers as its newest staff member, I was offered a chance to attend E3 this year. Having never been to an E3 before, I eagerly jumped at the chance to do so, despite having virtually no idea what to expect. I soon discovered that the event involved a ridiculous amount of time spent either standing or walking, punctuated by loud noises, flashing lights, and swarms of people. In other words, it was very, very exhausting. On a slightly happier note, however, I found that the women's restrooms at E3 were extremely quiet and empty in comparison to most events of a similar size.

The AG staff mainly avoided the more flashy E3 booths (as well as those dreadful booth babes) and cramped instead in smaller and at times quieter kiosks that housed independent developers who, lo and behold, still make adventure games. A lot of new games were seen, my enjoyment of many of them being directly affected by how loud it was outside and whether I had a place to sit and/or a good view of the computer screen on which the game was being displayed. But I digress. I was certainly pleased with the excellent turnout of cartoon adventures such as Jack Keane, Evil Days of Luckless John, and my personal favourite, Tanita: Plasticine Dream. I was also delighted to have a chance to play-test The Secrets of Da Vinci, in which I proceeded to repeatedly poke at a cat rather than get on with solving the puzzles.

All in all, E3 was quite the experience. I'm glad I managed to attend, if only for the many bragging rights that go with it.

A far cry from the show floor extravaganzas, Jack Keane is presented adventure-style.
Kheops CEO Benoit Hozjan shows off Secrets of Da Vinci while Jack crouches on the floor wishing both his feet weren't asleep.

 

Final thoughts of my own

 

So what are my own lasting impressions of E3 '06? Given that E3 is all about games, I would think that's obvious by now. Everywhere we went there were games. Thirty different games to see on our schedule alone, and many MANY more on display besides them. So what else would be the most memorable aspect of the show but… people.

That's right, people. Not games. Oh sure, I'm as enthused as anyone about all the promising titles we saw, and there were lots of encouraging signs that the genre is in a healthy, even relatively thriving, position going forward. But we play games, discuss games, and focus on games all year long, so from that perspective, E3 is really just more of the same (though admittedly WAY more of the same). Far more importantly, though, it's the only chance many in the industry will ever get to meet each other, and it's our encounters with all the great people that made everything worthwhile to me.

As our daily articles indicated, we met with developers and publishers from Austria, Italy, Germany, Scandinavia, Greece, Turkey, France, the UK, Hungary, and Russia, as well as others much closer to home. I'd love to share names, but there are too many to list here, and I can't single some out over others, as they all deserve equal recognition. These folks traveled a whole heck of a lot farther than we did, and most of them aren't native English speakers, making their efforts all the more significant. Yet it made such a difference to experience their enthusiasm and passion for the genre and their particular creations first-hand. I'd have preferred to split the show and just go hang out and talk games and development and industry issues away from the glitter and noise. But we made do in whatever semi-quiet areas we could find, and I came away totally impressed by the intelligence, humour, and dedication of everyone we met. The games will come and go, but the memories of those meetings will stick with me permanently.

A very public meeting with Private Moon, as we await a free table at the Trade Winds Café.
Berian and Emily get the last two chairs when the music stops... again!

 

And, of course, that's true not only of those outside of Adventure Gamers, but inside as well. It's a surreal experience to work closely day by day with people you've never seen, so it was a privilege for me to finally get to meet some of the people who make the site what it is. It wasn't long until I felt I'd known the live versions as long as I've known the virtual ones, and our group started feeling more like a family than a collection of strangers from all over the world. Except without all the bickering.

But that was then and this is now; the people are gone so it's time to get back to the games. No matter what your tastes, there's a little something for everyone coming this year. Need proof? Then stay tuned for previews of all the top games from the show!


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