All fun and games

The greatest show on earth

Monday, May 15, 2006 | 02:32 AM | by
After a tiring week of travel and video game expo, I'm now back at home and settling into my routine once again. This year's E3 was a great show, now that all the next-generation consoles are on display and playable. Some games I hadn't been paying attention to before have now caught my eye, and some games that I was eagerly anticipating have left me disappointed. All in all, it was a good trip. Saw and played some great stuff, and hung out with some great people.

And I'm not joking about the mechanical bull. We found one at a bar near the bar we were getting drunk at. I have video footage. I think CAD Premium subscribers shall be getting said footage in my next video news post.

E3 is such an enormous event, it's far too large for a single man to cover. I even fell short on my goal of doing at least some CADMedia coverage from the event. I have renewed fervor to buckle down in the next week or so and finish the necessary application documents so I can start taking on some help with CADMedia.

Until then, I do what I can alone. And I will now offer up what I consider to be my top picks from E3 2006.

There were 2 Xbox 360 games that stood out for me.

Dead Rising was awesome. A plot about a photojournalist trying to escape from a mall alive, buried neck deep in zombie slaughter of the most delicious nature. Yes please.

Lost Planet was also looking incredible. There is a playable demo on Xbox Live (the same one we had at E3), and if you've gotten your hands on it, you know what I'm talking about.

Three PC games hold the honor, though one is there by obvious default. That one is Spore. I mean, come one. How could you not wet yourself over that game? So since we'll just assume Spore is there by default, I'll use the spot for Battlefield 2142. Love at first high-powered futuristic rifle headshot.

Next up is Age of Conan. Surprisingly. Going into the convention, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes was one of my most anticipated MMOs. After playing it, well... I'll get to that later. But Conan filled that void nicely, with a great showing in West Hall.

Finally, Cellfactor, which is the game that was originally a tech demo to show off the Ageia PhysX card power, and has now turned into full development. On a side note, the PhysX cards are now on sale. From what I've heard they have some teething issues, being such a new technology, but I've got ahead and ordered mine. It should be here this week. If this technology is going to take off, it needs support, so I'm throwing mine out there by buying the first generation of cards. I'll report on how it goes after it's installed and running.

The New Super Mario Bros. (DS), The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass (DS), and Dungeons and Dragons Tactics (PSP) scored as my favorite handheld games for the show. And Super Mario Bros. arrived this week. I went ahead and ordered my DS Lite on day 1, to hopefully avoid any of the shortage nightmares that took place in Japan.

Other honorable mentions include God Hand and Rayman Raving Rabbids.

As I mentioned, there were some disappointments at E3. Vangaurd among them. The game in motion just looked... well, it looked exactly like Everquest 2. Which isn't necessarily a problem, because I liked EQ2, but... we already have an EQ2. I don't see us needing another. I guess it makes sense, given the developer, but I also find it ironic given the game's recent migration back to its roots at SOE. All in all, I was completely unimpressed by the game. It was offering me nothing I couldn't get elsewhere, while Age of Conan is trying a bunch of new things.

Another area of severe disappointment was the Powerstone compilation for the PSP. Powerstone was my favorite franchise for my Dreamcast, and I've been anxious to see it remade for a next-gen system. When I heard it was being ported to the PSP, I was excited, but seeing it in action leaves me sad inside. The game was hectic and chaotic, and sometimes hard to keep track of when on a regular TV. On the PSP's small screen, it's near impossible. Unless you hold the system right up in front of your face, the massive amount of action taking place on the screen can become just a colorful blur. It's tough to see where your character is, nevermind trying to control it.

All in all though, it was a great show. I just wish it didn't have to be in L.A. I hate Los Angeles more and more each time I travel there.

Thanks for everyone who came out and said hello at our little impromptu fan meet on Friday. I met some cool people there, and got to chat video games with fans. It was fun.

And a special thanks to all the industry reps who were extra nice to us, including Honey over at EA, and Valerie and the folks at NCSoft. You guys rock!

Volume One and Volume Two hardcover books

Monday, May 15, 2006 | 07:01 PM | by
We've come across a batch of limited edition, numbered, hardcover copies of the CAD books that weren't sold in the preorder last year. These editions will never be printed again, so if you missed out on ordering them last year, this is your final chance.

Last year we sold out of 1000 of these hardcover books in thirty minutes. This time we only have about 50 of each volume to offer, so I can't even imagine how quickly they'll go.

The books will go on sale Thursday, May 18th in our store. Half of the books will be made available at 9am EST, and the other half will be made available at 9pm EST, to give people as good a chance at getting the books as possible.

Update: The books will be sold at their original price of $29.99, and include a certificate of authenticity and three stickers (Ethan, Lucas and Zeke).

CADMedia is now looking for writers

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 | 12:24 PM | by
I always knew CADMedia would have to be a group project; it's far too much for one man to cover alone. E3 really drove that point home, so I'm now going to start taking applications for volunteer writers to work on the site.

You can find the guidelines here. If the guidelines seem strict, it's because I expect to receive a lot of applications, and am currently only choosing a small handful of people to start out. A tougher application process may trim that amount down to only the people that really want to work on CADMedia, and it will also make it easier for me to process the applications.

I'm going to take and review applications for about a week, maybe two, before I start making my decision. After which I'll email the people I've chosen and start the next step of the process. If you don't receive an email, keep an eye on the site. I'm sure I'll have open positions again in the future.

Good luck everyone.