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The first time you go to E3 you feel like you are entering the world of the game industry "Rock Stars". My wife reminded me that I went to my first E3 in 1997. The hot shot press were sweating like Tom Cruise at a gay pride parade, Atlanta was only slightly warmer than the Sun and Duke Nukem Forever was the talk of the town.
10 years and plenty of E3 experiences later I'm preparing for the strangest E3 of all. Gone are the booth babes. Gone is the L.A. Convention zoo. Instead I'll be cabbing between hotels, smiling and wondering to myself just what happened to what may have been the most entertaining show on Earth.
My L.A. traffic experience began in Toronto where the largest highway in the country, a highway that is the main artery for all traffic pumping through Toronto, picked today to "buckle" due to the intense heat, effectively turning the "Express" lanes into an improvised parking lot. Apparently in Toronto it only needs to be 36 degrees Celsius to be considered intense.
The E3 changes have put the spotlight on other events. One such event, the World Series of Video Games in Dallas, was on our coverage list, but the timing didn't work out. Fortunately for you, one of your loyal Loading... comrades sent me this report,
"The WSVG, or Medeor Does DallasThere is a little part in all of us that appreciates the skill level in what professionals do, but we also think that given the time and resources we too could be that good (i.e. bowling, billiards, golf maybe?). I'm here to tell you that is not the case with PvP tournaments. I have played a lot of World of Warcraft (WoW). My slash played time could legally drive. I have now seen greatness in terms of what a real PVPer can do and even with unlimited time to play on my side, I would be a speed bump (and a small one) on their path to victory.
I attended the World Series of Video Gaming this weekend in Dallas, Texas and all I can say is hmmm, well read on. I was there to check out the PvP action for WoW and take in all of the sights and sounds of a gamer's weekend. I've never attended such a function, but I've been to hundreds of business and quite a few electronics conferences. My expectations were in check because I anticipated the WSVG to be an extension of hobbyists gone wild. The pre-conference notices and reminders were an indication that this event was by gamers who had grown beyond hosting LAN parties but may not have the polish of those conferences that were built by businesses. I was rewarded, the conference was almost exactly what I expected. The coordination was pretty poor, no one seemed to know when or if anything was going to happen - the responses to my question of "Hey dude, when is the finals for the pvp tournament," (I used Dude so he would think I was part of the in-crowd). Dude with a Staff badge says "I dunno, let me check." Dude gets on the walkie talkie and after an excruciating three or so minutes of "Anyone know when the WoW tourney is done, or if it is done, or when is the finals?" No luck. Nobody knew. I wonder if they mistakenly handed out Staff badges instead of attendee badges. I don't want to beat those guys up, they had their hands full, and those shows are a royal pain the arse to put on, so I won't pile on too high.
Back to the show. The diversity of the games was interesting. On display and involved in tournaments were: Gears of War (I believe, I never actually saw any of this occur, but apparently someone won). They had Fight Night, a racing game (pick one), and the main stage was Guitar Hero. Yes, Guitar Hero. I'll let that sink in and then we'll continue.
The WoW 3v3 tournament drew the largest crowds by far. Regardless of what other games people play, they all seem to play WoW. The only station I could not get on was any of the 3 WoW stations (there were only 3, but the largest game had 4 stations). I could get onto the XBox 360s,the Gears of War, the Call of Duty 2 Beta and yet I couldn't get onto one of the stations playing a two and half year old game (yes I know the expansion is only 5 months old, but come on). And yes, the 3 WoW stations had the most uber characters ever, and I mean EVER! Since I couldn't play on one of the stations with the uber-133t 70s with tier 5 armor and 100-slot bags, I was determined to watch the pros.
If you haven't seen professionals play a PvP tournament, all I can tell you is to prepare the following phrase and you will repeat it often: "wtf just happened?!?!?" After getting through all of the "When is the next event" frustration, we got to sit down and see some action. There are many facets to an MMO tournament. One major flaw is that they take longer to set up than a Tom Petty concert. Each player has to assign talent points, macros, key bindings, etc. In theory the tournament saves them so the next time the players log in, they get their setting back, but I don't think that theory holds water because each event took FORever to set up. And then wham-bam-yer-pwnd-ma'mm and it's over. Then I'm sitting there and asking the guy next to me "Hey dude, wtf just happened?" The guy next to me busts out with "oh man, didn't you see that? The shadow priest whacked the rogue almost immediately after he blew his sprint too early, and [insert commentary longer than the game action] and then it was all over brah." I say "Yeah, that was crazy, the rogue did the thing where he, umm, and then the mage, ermm...well he maged all over that ummm short guy, probably a dwarf."
As usual, I continued to make social blunders in discussing the nuances of the tournament with the guys around me that could actually follow the action. I'm not sure how I can have multiple level 70s and still be this much of a noob. I said "It looks like its a game to one - whoever gets the first kill wins." This was met with the look-back-over-the-shoulder drawn out "duuuuuude, there are times with you can come back from 2 to 1, and my buddy the Paladin right here has done it a couple of time, huh dude?!" All that teen hubris aside, a 3v3 game is all about the first kill. We'll get more insight from my conversation to be published later this week with a pro who prefers 5v5 (insert suspense builder here) I know you're holding your breath.
My friends and I are older gamers (closer to 40 than 20) who really do geek on this kind of stuff. We would have spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars on "stuff." We probably would have bought one or two of the Dell XPS laptops if they were for sale. Beyond what the CompUSA booth had (and they did have some good deals) there was no stuff to buy. If I'm willing to spend $300-1,300 to get to the middle of nowhere (sorry Grapevine, Texas), then I'm willing to spend at least that much on hats, shirts, games, game-oriented stuff, you name it. Hell, my friends and I would have spent $1,000 just to have someone teach us how to play the WoW TCG. [quick aside - We all bought cards and read the rulebook and did the online tutorial and still have no clue.] These are just helpful insights for those out there looking for ways to make the revenue model work on the next get-together."
Vanguard: A Modest Proposal To SOE
"Ralsu's latest blog satirically suggests SOE make 80% of NPCs killable so that the few players in each town can kill without looking for a group."
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Scientists left scratching their heads.
Iran Smashes Zionist Squirrel Ring
Next....the other cuddly rodent, rabbits.
Psycho Stabs Scientologist Parents
Ironic alarm heard blaring at a cult near you.
Thanks as always for visiting TenTonHammer.com
John "Boomjack" Hoskin