So what are you looking forward to at E3 next week? For me, for possibly the first time, I’m more interested in the hardware, accessories and middleware that is going to be on display than any of the games. I’m getting old and cynical and so the amount of sequels that have been touted leaves me cold; it is instead the technical innovations that have my attention.
First and foremost, it’s Nintendo’s successor to the DS that causes my pupils to dilate. The amount of promise that just one short press release managed to cram in, but simultaneously leaving so many questions, was an incredible PR stunt. Pushing out to the wider world that they were working on portable machine capable of 3D imagery, but the then telling us we’d have to wait three months for the next snippet of information. The swines.
Part of me is worried that, like most things, the anticipation and the build up will be far more exciting than the actual announcement – I compare this of course to the World Cup – and that when Reggie steps on stage and no doubt pulls something from his jacket that there will a collective groan from the audience. I don’t want that, I want to regress back to my childhood where everything Nintendo did I treated as a marvel. I want to be blown away by the 3DS.
Natal & Move
We’ve seen various titbits emanating from Sony’s Move camp, but very little from their supposed rivals Natal. E3 will change all that with Microsoft holding a dedicated Natal press event where the covers will be pulled off what we can only hope to be a whole slew of titles.
The tech behind Natal honestly has to be seen to be believed as its ability to use lasers and depth perception to recognise the human form in real time is truly staggering. That alone won’t shift hardware, though, and I’ll be looking to the stage to see just how the developers have chosen to embrace this radically new form of input. There are bound to be a lot of Wii-esque mini-game collections incorporating wild movements, but I’m holding out for something a little from left field.
The same goes for Move. Again the tech is impressive but it could easily be classed as the hardcore gamer’s Wiimote and I’ll be looking for some innovative uses for the wand next week. If either or both end up being the dumping for a lot of shovelware shipped over from the Wii then neither will launch with a fanfare. They both need stand out titles to hit the ground running, something that shows off each hardware’s strengths in the same way that Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort sold wagglesticks to the masses.
A question still remains as to whether or not 3D is really the next leap for gaming. Many of the current implementations are either expensive, because they require special televisions and/or glasses, or detrimental to the game itself, either because they turn the whole game into a muddy palette of reds and blues or due to the extra processing power required to achieve such a feat.
For now, however, thanks to Mr Cameron and his blue elves there is still a “wow” factor associated with everything 3D. Sony hopes to ride that wave through the LA convention centre. Already we’ve seen many games ported to make us of the extra dimension but I’m a staunch believer in that games adapted to use technology are those best to show it off. Experiences need to be designed with the process in mind to take true advantage of the tech’s strengths and it won’t be until a game has set out with standard displays as a secondary consideration over 3D that we might really see what is possible.
Seeing as I’m itching for an excuse to upgrade my TV then the PS3 3D announcements and demos will be eagerly tracked.
Quite sadly, I’m still interested in new guitars and drums for my music games. And just when you think all that can be done in plastic instruments has been done, out comes Rise of the Six String utilising proper guitars, and Rock Band 3 with a mix of actual stringed instruments and a keyboard. I’m not expecting any further announcements but instead I’ll be paying attention to the actual hands-on experiences that those lucky folks out on the sunny West coast are going to be reporting back on. Are they actual advancements or, as many fear, are they the last desperate throw of the dice for a fading genre.