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Author Topic: E3 Day 1 Report  (Read 5126 times)
StGabe
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on: May 18, 2005, 07:59:24 PM

If anyone cares about my opinions enough to read. *grin*

For console gamers:

Kingdom Hearts II was a lot of fun. I got to play through two boss battles which were very epic with lots of interesting strategy. It appears that there are now situations where you have to press the Triangle key at certain moments to trigger special attacks -- it doesn't sound very exciting but during play it worked pretty well (mostly because the events that trigger the triangles aren't random but have a meaning during the actual fight). One such triangle event had me jump onto Cerberus's back, strain to hold back two of his heads, bounce around on top of him a bit and knock him to the floor unconscious (for about 30s). The other battle was against a flying dragon. I had to find whirlwinds caused by his flight and use the triangle to trigger a huge jump up into the air, try to land on his back and then nail him on the head. I also had opportunities to trigger special attacks with the triangle when he would charge me (but these were fairly hard to time).  While KH2 is a pretty light game I rather enjoyed the first one and I am looking forward to the sequel.

Fire Emblem for the Gamecube looks great. Seemed to be the same basic game (not a surprise, aren't all Fire Emblems basically the same game?) with very nice graphics/animations. Didn't really get to look at any of the other Nintendo stuff.

Sadly none of the PSP games really grabbed me.  But then I was exhausted by the time I got to them anyway.

The big one: Starcraft Ghost (I played an XBox version but I think there was a PC version too). A Starcraft-based first-person shooter. I got to play two fairly long matches of an interesting variation on capture the flag. Basically your team has to control a factory for 7 minutes. The factory starts out floating in midair and you have to fly up to it. Then you fly it over to your base and your 7 minutes starts ticking down. The opposing team, however, can invade the base, capture it and fly it over to their side. Once someone has had it for 7 minutes totally (all at once or split up), they win. You can play a ghost, a marine, a light marine or a firebat. I played mostly the heavy marine and ghost. The former has a nice chaingun and grenades and the latter has some really powerful sniper action with stealth capabilities and the ability to lockdown vehicles. The vehicles are great. You get a lot of the Starcraft vehicles: wraithes, the bikes, jeeps, siege tanks. You hop in and rock and roll.

My biggest complaint was that the XBox controls were pretty tough to use. Especially for sniping. It was a bit jerky and when you actually got a red "lock" on a target and fired you often still wouldn't hit. The graphics also are not anything amazing -- like most Blizzard games. But the gameplay I got to get involved in was awesome and I am definitely looking forward to having a copy on my PC (or an XBox if ever get one).

No idea if you can play the Zerg or Protoss. I'll try to ask that tomorrow. I'll probably try to get in another game two. So far I've played on the red squad twice and we're 2-0. *grin*

MMO players:

I got to watch Gods and Heros and talk to a developer and a QA guy. It looked rough, but very promisng. Basically you get to control a squad of 2-8 minions. And the leveling process is really the process of improving your minions. You level up through improving your base camp. They said that they were even trying to do things like having you take your men out to Rome to the bathes, to go out on the town, etc., to keep them happy (but were somewhat defensive about saying that they limited this to what was "fun"). And if you don't fight with them then eventually they get unhappy. So there's some micromanagement game there with your camp. At higher levels you can even recruit mythological creatures to aid you. Your recruits all have classes chosen from among those available to the player. I saw a skeletal warrior and a minotaur. The other part of the game, apparently, is that you are a son (or daughter presumably) of a God and can earn powers and gifts from them, apparently through some sort of epic quest series. I didn't get to hear much about that.

One other interesting thing (particularly for me working as I do now in mobile games) was that they were talking about allowing you to log in from your mobile to pay upkeeps, and do all the stuff that you want to do to keep your minions happy. Sounds very interesting although it also implies that you will have to login regularly to keep your stuff in good shape which may not be a good thing for a lot of players.

One other note: no crafting. Building your camp is the "crafting" component of the game. There were some significant clipping and framerate issues but they assured me that it would be solid at release, and said it would probably beta this summer and release this Fall.

D&D online looked a bit meh. My basic impression was that it was yet another game that relied too heavily on the licenses and not enough on gameplay. No crafting either. They said they were trying to just get the core 3.5e ruleset in for the initial build. And my problem with that is that the 3.5e ruleset just doesn't seem interesting enough for a game (it's a great framework for creating live stories with a DM, but I'm not sure it's a great framework for an online world). I got to run around as a dwarven warrior and for the most part this suspicion seemed justified. I basically just mashed very similar attacks over and over again (I had a single target attack and two AE's with cooldowns essentially).

That said they had some pretty darn nifty puzzles as part of the quests. An example was a sort of water pipe quest where you had to rotate tiles to create a path from the start to two symbols -- and this was for a quest with an overall 10 minute time limit so you had to be fast. And they said that "most" xps were entirely quest-based although not all which should be interesting. It also seemed to be dynamic. We found different creatures in one of the rooms during different run-throughs.

PC stuff. There was some D&D real time strategy that I got to play for a bit and looked rather fun. Something about shards. You basically played a RTS game above ground, creating heros to go out and fight ... and then you could go below ground to fight in a dungeon of sorts where you could capture powerful temples or something like that, earn xps, basically "mine" treasure chests for gold, etc. It still looked pretty rough though.  One really interesting/bizarre element was that experience was a -resource- just like gold and shards.

There was more I'm sure, but I'm all wonked out already -- what a day.  Back again tomorrow.  Fortunately our games at our booth were solid the whole day so it looks like I won't get bothered to work. :)

Gabe.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2005, 08:03:19 PM by StGabe »

Signe
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Reply #1 on: May 18, 2005, 09:02:27 PM

Good read.  Thanks for the first day summary!   smiley

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Trippy
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Reply #2 on: May 18, 2005, 10:30:23 PM

Kingdom Hearts II was a lot of fun. I got to play through two boss battles which were very epic with lots of interesting strategy. It appears that there are now situations where you have to press the Triangle key at certain moments to trigger special attacks -- it doesn't sound very exciting but during play it worked pretty well (mostly because the events that trigger the triangles aren't random but have a meaning during the actual fight). One such triangle event had me jump onto Cerberus's back, strain to hold back two of his heads, bounce around on top of him a bit and knock him to the floor unconscious (for about 30s).
God of War has the same mechanic and it sounds it's going to be one of those oft-copied things like the "bullet time" from Max Payne.

Quote
The big one: Starcraft Ghost (I played an XBox version but I think there was a PC version too). A Starcraft-based first-person shooter. I got to play two fairly long matches of an interesting variation on capture the flag. Basically your team has to control a factory for 7 minutes. The factory starts out floating in midair and you have to fly up to it. Then you fly it over to your base and your 7 minutes starts ticking down. The opposing team, however, can invade the base, capture it and fly it over to their side. Once someone has had it for 7 minutes totally (all at once or split up), they win. You can play a ghost, a marine, a light marine or a firebat. I played mostly the heavy marine and ghost. The former has a nice chaingun and grenades and the latter has some really powerful sniper action with stealth capabilities and the ability to lockdown vehicles. The vehicles are great. You get a lot of the Starcraft vehicles: wraithes, the bikes, jeeps, siege tanks. You hop in and rock and roll.
I just watched some of the E3 demo footage and while the gameplay looks like it might be interesting the graphics were uninspiring -- the game looked a lot like the original Tribes. I'm excited to hear, though, that it has team multiplayer.

Quote
D&D online looked a bit meh. My basic impression was that it was yet another game that relied too heavily on the licenses and not enough on gameplay. No crafting either. They said they were trying to just get the core 3.5e ruleset in for the initial build. And my problem with that is that the 3.5e ruleset just doesn't seem interesting enough for a game (it's a great framework for creating live stories with a DM, but I'm not sure it's a great framework for an online world).
Ebberon is the campaign setting for DDO.

Quote
I got to run around as a dwarven warrior and for the most part this suspicion seemed justified. I basically just mashed very similar attacks over and over again (I had a single target attack and two AE's with cooldowns essentially).
How twitchy was it? Were you able to dodge attacks and stuff like that?

Quote
PC stuff. There was some D&D real time strategy that I got to play for a bit and looked rather fun. Something about shards. You basically played a RTS game above ground, creating heros to go out and fight ... and then you could go below ground to fight in a dungeon of sorts where you could capture powerful temples or something like that, earn xps, basically "mine" treasure chests for gold, etc. It still looked pretty rough though.  One really interesting/bizarre element was that experience was a -resource- just like gold and shards.
That would be Dragonshard.
StGabe
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Reply #3 on: May 19, 2005, 12:21:25 AM

Yes, Starcraft: Ghost graphics are definitely a lot like tribes.  It feels similar too.  But the gameplay was pretty darn good.  Not really surprising seeing how this is a Blizzard game.

Yeah, I know Ebberon is the campaign setting for DDO.  We saw some Ebberon specific stuff in the demo.  However, that's not really what I meant.  I think they can create a good background story.  I just don't think that the D&D ruleset really lends itself to MMO gameplay that will be satisifying over the long haul.   I think it works well for storytelling and tabletopping exactly because it is fairly loose -- and this same quality just leads to dull gameplay in a videogame.

DDO was twitchy in that you didn't have an autoattack.  So you were clicking every attack which was annoying.  But I was assured that was only a temporary thing.  There was no dodging, etc., that I saw.  In fact it was hard to tell what was going on except that at one point most monsters either were missing me entirely or just doing no damage and then suddenly they were hitting me.  There was a text readout of course that I just wasn't paying too much attention to.

You basically just had the standard ability bar (actually it was pretty small).  I happened to have 3 attacks on it, the ability to change weapons and some other stuff.  A sorceror I saw had all the D&D standards.  Lightning bolt, fireball, etc.  All the items were true D&D items.  +3 cloak of resistance, +2 keen heavy mace.  Etc.  That's also a system that I think isn't very inspired in an MMO format and I think that following the licenses there may hurt gameplay. *shrug*

And yes, Dragonshard was the name.  Made by Liquid I think.  They did one of my PSP games too, didn't they?  It definitely looked worth watching.  Other details about that: you don't have peons, anyone can mine; you don't build wherever you want but rather you have set positions for your buildings; you build heros and not other units directly and then these heros can summon lesser units (starting at level 2 and more units for higher levels).

Weirdest display at the show was NCSoft with a rock band backing a bunch of drummer/dancer/fire-eaters who were hula-hoop'ing a ring of fire.

Best cleavage was the Jedi chick at Lucasarts (I think I got a picture).

Weirdest swag was a "mobile screen wiper" from Squenix.  Basically a little pad with a cord attached to it that you could attach to your mobile phone or PSP and use to wipe the screen with. 

Gabe.



Margalis
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Reply #4 on: May 19, 2005, 12:46:43 AM

Liquid made that Asian-themed RTS game called Battle Realms a few years ago.

As far as the D&D rules go, I don't really understand what you are saying. I mean, if you think of the actual rules in any other MMORPG they aren't exactly exciting. Just some percentage to hit calculations followed by some damage calculations. And no game can have more boring items than WoW.

As far as the clicking crazyness goes, I thought they said that was part of the idea and you could do "combos" or strings or whatever by clicking a bunch of times in a row. Sounds more like multiplayer Diablo than a true MMORPG, which isn't a bad thing. I thought Phantasy Star Online was pretty fun.

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Reply #5 on: May 19, 2005, 12:47:15 AM

Yeah, I know Ebberon is the campaign setting for DDO.  We saw some Ebberon specific stuff in the demo.  However, that's not really what I meant.  I think they can create a good background story.  I just don't think that the D&D ruleset really lends itself to MMO gameplay that will be satisifying over the long haul.   I think it works well for storytelling and tabletopping exactly because it is fairly loose -- and this same quality just leads to dull gameplay in a videogame.

So far, NOTHING has lent itself to satisfying gameplay in MMO's. I'm not sure why you have to point this out for D&D specifically.
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Reply #6 on: May 19, 2005, 01:03:48 AM

I've noticed there is no coverage of Hello Kitty Online. Someone needs to fix that. STAT!
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Reply #7 on: May 19, 2005, 01:04:52 AM

Seriously.

Hello. Kitty. Online. Now.
StGabe
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Reply #8 on: May 19, 2005, 01:05:20 AM

Well I don't want to start up an MMO discussion -- I'm basically giving my review here and you can take it or leave it.  I only got half an hour to plug away at the demo and talk to a QA guy anyway so it's already to be taken for granted that I don't know everything there is to know about the game.

I just think that the range of abilities and general rules that D&D has are very shallow and are interesting only in a tabletop setting -- where their shallowness is actually an asset.  I can have fun just rolling d20's and seeing that I hit, miss, hit and miss.  Or whatever.  Because I am sitting around with cool people telling a real story and that is the real gameplay.  But if you take the tabletop away and I'm just rolling d20's ... I'm gonna get bored pretty quickly.

Items in WoW are boring.  I don't like WoW though.  But in many ways they still have a lot more variation than D&D items.

Look at it like this.  Make your level 20 warrior and put all your feats and shit on him.  How exciting is he really compared to what a maxxed out character is goinna do in Guild Wars (which I finally played and rather liked), WoW, EQ2, whatever (pick whichever MMO you think sucks the least).  Not terribly is the answer.  He can cleave, he can whirlwind (maybe), and he can try a disarm or a sunder or a few other things even though they suck. And he has collected a +5 everything of buttkicking.  What makes it fun to actually play that character IN MY OPINION is the story.  I just don't think the 3.5e system is ITSELF, without the tabletop element, that fun to play.  Did I say that's an opinion?  Because it is, by the way.

And it was my impression from the demo that they weren't going far beyond that.  What I was hearing from the QA guy there was: we are implementing 3.5e and that's it right now.  Which reads to me like, "we are meeting all of the conditions of using the license and that's it".  And I hate mediocre gameplay that just happens to be attached to a cool license.  I think we all do.  And while DDO might not end up being that -- that's what I ended up fearing after playing the demo.  The combat just seemed lifeless and far less interesting than other systems I've played.

Now the quests, as I said, did have some pretty cool elements like the tile puzzle.  And maybe there's enough there that I didn't see to save the thing.  Don't shoot the reviewer however just because he doesn't know everything and might not have the same taste as you.  Maybe Calandryll or someone has more to say?

Gabe.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2005, 01:07:55 AM by StGabe »

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Reply #9 on: May 19, 2005, 10:02:30 AM

I still don't see any Hello Kitty information in there.

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AOFanboi
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Reply #10 on: May 19, 2005, 10:11:01 AM

I still don't see any Hello Kitty information in there.
Go buy the DVD player and stare longingly at it.

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