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Reloading... Gamania Game Show Revisited

Posted Thu, Sep 15, 2011 by B. de la Durantaye

Welcome back to the 76th edition of Reloading...! 

I’m Ben de la Durantaye and while Boomjack is away, the editors and I are commandeering Reloading...

“It is the old battle, between those who use a toothbrush and those who don't." - Lady Gregory

Wake up call! Here's a vid to enjoy with your coffee.



I have successfully returned from a week in Taipei where I was attending the first ever Gamania Game Show. So the first question some of you will be asking is "Who is Gamania?" You may remember them from our earlier coverage of Hero: 108, which is a game running in conjunction with the cartoon of the same name on the Cartoon Network.

With free-to-play games rapidly entering the gamespace at a pace that no human can keep up with, it's not often I personally will get a whole lot of time to check out most of the F2Ps out there. In fact, to even just read every email that hits my inbox about F2Ps, particularly the mass amounts of Eastern F2Ps, I would need a sweatshop of my own. As having hundreds of children working shoulder to shoulder 24/7 to scour my inbox isn't precisely a career goal of mine, many of those emails will sadly never get read apart from the subject line.

That being said, these games are an important part of our industry. Why? Because there's a whole friggin' mess of people that play them and by quantity alone, the odds are there's got to be a few gems in the lot. Free-to-play is coming (or has arrived) in North America in a big way and it's not going away any time soon. These games are abnormally popular in Eastern regions and some of them are gaining Western traction too. Of those, a few will (or have) become staples for design and revenue models. As such, having at least an understanding of what's happening is a very important part of my duties here at Ten Ton Hammer.

Enough about that though. Let's talk a bit about the GGS I attended.

As I mentioned in my impressions article earlier this week I was really taken by surprise at the production value of the show. Now keep in mind I've been to many shows over the past few years, including GDC, Blizzcon, E3, gamescom, PAX, and SOE Fan Faire. I've also been to several Studio Visits and other Press Gaming Events. None of it prepared me for the show that was waiting for me in Taiwan. Gamania wanted to make an impression, and they did. Of course the important part of the journey is the games themselves, but Gamania also realized that in order to stand out the events would have to be memorable--something that we couldn't soon forget in the massive onslaught of F2P emails. So while I'll be getting into details about the games themselves in separate articles, today's column will solely be about the "show."

As a Canadian male, I have a genetic disposition which causes me to have... how shall I put it... an appreciation for Asian women. As it turns out, there's a lot of Asian women in Asia. They welcomed me as I walked into the show entrance for the first time - five on each side who greeted me with a "Welcome to Gamania Game Show!" From there the Gamania girls were at every corner, some in cosplay, some in the Gamania Girl attire. All were beautiful and all were helpful. We even had one who filled in the last group spot for us while we played Core Blaze. I don't know about the rest of you, but typically at my LAN parties it's usually a bunch of dudes with cheetos stained shirts, so this was a new gaming experience for me.

The first game I took a look at was Dream Drops (game coverage here), which is a game based on European Fairy Tales. The setting was quite appropriate as it took place around a huge table that was set up as the tea party from Alice in Wonderland. PCs were set up all around the table which had an old tree growing out from the center. The setting was quite fantastic and for a moment I almost felt like Alice. I mean, the Mad Hatter. I mean, the Cheshire cat. I mean... aw, heck... there are no brooding, handsome cool guys in Alice in Wonderland. I was Alice.

Next up was Langrisser Schwarz, a co-op instance-based action combat MMOG based on the Langrisser IP (game coverage here). I enjoyed this setting very much as it almost completely disoriented me and made me forget where I actually was. First the US Press Group was taken into a dark room where the goddess Lushiris asked us a series of questions to determine which "team" we'd be on. After selecting our answers we were escorted by a Gamania Girl into another dark room where we took our seats on one of three sides of the room, based on our choices from the questions. We sat down, then LIGHTS UP! In came an energetic, fun woman with microphone in hand who eagerly welcomed us and set the stage. I glanced around at the other 2 teams, back at my own, then back at the girl with the mic. I was on a game show. I didn't know how I got there or what I was supposed to be doing, but I suddenly became very excited and it was all I could to do contain myself from jumping up and down, clapping and giggling.

The third game was Tiara Concerto, which is a music-based action, sky pirate type of game (game coverage coming soon). Here, the setting was much more serene and even almost blissful. We sat in a large circle around two musicians--a clarinetist and a violinist (both in cosplay). Behind us was a scrim painted as the sky and behind the musicians was a small floating island on which sat a kingdom filled with castles and magical little towns. This setting was probably the simplest of the four games we saw, but it was fitting to the game, and very serene. I could have sat in that space for many more hours after the demo was over (or days if the lovely musicians would have kept me company).

Last, but far from least was Core Blaze (game coverage coming soon). Here we were sat at one of 4 tables with our teams in the middle of a gigantic space with rounded walls that reached high above us. Projected on the walls, in 360 degrees, was a game-rendered junglescape. It was breathtaking, being enveloped in a breathing digitally-rendered animated jungle with waterfalls, blowing leaves and the like. I'm almost certain I even saw some creatures peaking out from behind the dense foliage here and there. Even cooler were the videos displayed on this backdrop as the jungle transformed into a monstrous screen to watch some dev v-blogs and get a sneak peek at a giant-dragon like creature which towered above us.

As I mentioned earlier in this column, I've been to a lot of game shows. But Gamania Game Show was unlike anything I've ever attended. It was thematical, magical, and inspirational. And informative! Not only did I experience some really cool physical experiences in Taiwan, but I also got to really sink my teeth into some of these games that are making their way over to us in the West. There's no better way to get a feel for a game than when you're able to experience it with the devs on hand to guide you through and answer any questions.

Overall, the first GGS is something I won't soon forget, and it was simply a fantastic way to end the busy summer show season.

Keep gaming and have fun,
Benjamin J. de la Durantaye
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This week's colección de crapola (which we think might be Spanish for "bunch of stuff you don't really need but want nonetheless") includes the following wonders:

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Imagine your delight when you open a box from Ten Ton Hammer containing this steaming pile of...well, never mind. We know you want to enter. If you're a premium member, you can just give us your deets. Not premium? Step up and the world could be your Hefty bag!

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