RPS-ish at-ish E3: Day 1, Part 1 – MS

By Mathew Kumar on July 14th, 2008 at 11:02 pm.

Dear RPS Readers,

As not one of the quintessential quartet that makes up the Rock Paper Shotgun team were able to make it out to Los Angeles, they sent me instead. Well, they say they “weren’t able to make it out” – they probably all remembered that going to E3 as a journalist lumps you in with a large group of hobbyist “journalists” who whoop and pump their fist in the air when executives come out on stage during press conferences.

Today’s pre-E3 festivities began with the Microsoft press conference, or more accurately the Xbox press conference. I originally toyed with the concept of “liveblogging” specifically the parts where Microsoft talked about PC stuff, but to be honest, that would just have been depressing – and short. Because there really wasn’t all that much on offer to make PC gamers smile. There was enough (just) to make you feel that maybe Microsoft doesn’t actively hate you, but they certainly don’t like you all that much.

My personal highlights/moments of interest:

- The waiting period before the conference started (Sort of). They had some drawing tablets sitting out for people to draw on before they took their seat, and the results were being shown on the big screen for the audience. As I was once a British schoolboy, I couldn’t resist drawing a speed dobber with “Rock Paper Shotgun” written across the shaft.

They didn’t show it on the big screen, sadly.

- Fallout 3. The trailer they showed a short clip of is going to be online soon [here, in fact - RPS Hivemind] and was a well observed, if easy, 50’s parody, but it was the gameplay demonstration [also here] that was exciting. The V.A.T.S. method of attacking enemies in a sort of “turn-based” battle mode looked quick and fun to use (maybe more fun than actually playing it like an FPS?) and that there’s a hand-held nuclear device (the Fat Man) which actually obliterates enemies in a mushroom cloud is pretty classy. First mention of Games For Windows, too – downloadable content will be exclusive to PC and 360. Which is pleasant.

- Peter Molyneux saying “Fable 2 is finished.” Not coming out for PC, though. Why has Molyneux forsaken the PC audience, anyway? We’ve forgiven that guy for a lot (mostly unfinished games – I’m still bitter about Syndicate’s “ending”) but he won me over by the fact that Fable 2’s introduction has a really cute sparrow in it. I love sparrows. He didn’t win over all the US journalists. Some US Journalists seem to really hate Peter Molyneux for some reason. “Let’s not inflate his British ego any more,” is the most recent thing I’ve overheard said about him here in the media room. “British” was said with one hell of a snarl.

- Gears of War 2 – currently exclusive to Xbox, Marcus is still a ridiculous twat (his voice is so gravely it’s comical) but watching an entire city slide into a hole (while Marcus traverses it) as dust and debris files everywhere is something else. It was like 9/11 times a thousand! So at least 91100.

- John Schappert announcing Microsoft’s decision to completely change the Xbox’s interface (and rip of the Wii, natch) with the new avatar system and “party” based shared experiences. They didn’t mention if this would have any effect on Games for Windows. Maybe they forgot all about that. The shared experience stuff is kind of cute, and does seem like the kind of thing that would be just as nice on PC, and (if anything) more usable.

- Valve forsaking us all by releasing Portal: Still Alive as an Xbox Live Arcade exclusive. WTF, obviously. Portal was actually really hard with the 360 controller (especially towards the end, or when you were going for the crazy cake achievements) so if this is even harder… It’ll come to Steam eventually. Surely!

- Absolutely no mention of the PC or Games for Windows again, until Square Enix’s Yoshi Wada announced new RPG The Last Remnant is to be released for Games for Windows. Of course, that announcement was completely overshadowed by the announcement of Final Fantasy 13 being released on Xbox 360 seconds later, which caused hundreds of people in the auditorium to start stripping of their clothes and touching their naughty bits.

Well, it nearly did; they probably wanted to.

So that was it. Two mentions of Games For Windows at the Xbox press conference. Which isn’t exactly the statement of a company who consider the PC platform central to their efforts. But it’s better than nothing. And as far as Microsoft goes, that almost feels like progress.

Signing off,

Mathew Kumar

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42 Comments »

  1. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    Bloody americans, eh? :)

    Sounds like a pretty dreary evening, i’m sorry to say! Can’t say i’m that bothered about Fable – the first one never really grabbed me for some reason, although a few of my mates really got into it. Maybe i’ll go back and play it again now I have some time free.

  2. Radiant says:

    You know; I really want them to release wild hungry animals at the [people] who go to e3.
    Just so we can get shaky camphone footage of people clapping and cheering a vp of marketing as he screams “RELEASE THE HOUNDS!”
    Imagine hundreds of live blogs ending abruptly at: “And they’ve ANNOUNCED WILD HOUNDS!!!!! WOOHOOOaargk”

    Nice write up btw.

  3. Nilocy says:

    I was watching that video on a live webcast thing. and I have to say im really excited about a few things. And very dissapointed in alot of others. I liked the new Viva pinata game, I’m hoping that will only add to the amazingness of the old one. I’m liking that microsoft is now giving you better reasons to buy the web cam. I’m not liking microsoft for what seems to be a horrible casual wave of weird over the dashboards with the Mii’s… I mean Avatars. GoW 2 just looks like the old one, all over again. Shame there wasn’t much to do with games for windows.

  4. MasterBoo says:

    The new Portal exclusively first for the XBOX? What the?

  5. MisterBritish says:

    Wow, I think we have Simon Cowell to thank for that comment.

    And thank you RPS minion! I’m sure the neural implants will de-activate once E3 is over.

    I’m sure…

    Enjoy your complementary harem Mr Newell!

  6. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    I think it’s actually just a few extra levels (that we already have?) put on XBLA or something. Not a sequel or something. Or that’s the impression I got? I hope! It would be a bit of a u-turn from Valve otherwise.

  7. Masked Dave says:

    What? They’re completely changing the Xbox interface? Why? How? When? To What? Who?

    Also, I found Portal fine on the 360. I was going to say easier, but that was only because I’d already completed it on the PC and was playing it on my dad’s console to pass the time.

  8. Alec Meer says:

    (OT: We don’t ever want to see the word ‘spastic’ and variations thereupon in our comments again, please. I’ve deleted 3 already today.)

  9. Masked Dave says:

    Yeah the Portal: Still Alive is just a couple of harder levels. Which considering that on the PC we can have as many levels we want, or even make our own, for free, it hardly seems like a big deal.

    It’s almost like Valve are throwing down some crumbs from the table of our joyous gameplay feast to the yapping dogs of the console players.

  10. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    @ MasterBoo: From the way it was described on the live feed it sounds more like a standalone map-pack.

    really cute sparrow

    As an ornithological pedant I was quite impressed with their attention to detail, particularly as it was a Tree Sparrow which are renowned for being the best Sparrows.

  11. Radiant says:

    Sorry guv.
    (Wasn’t aimed at the writer if that’s any consolation also conan the barbarian is on the telly).
    The xbox360 dashboard as it stands now is really shit to be fair.
    So good on them for changing it.

  12. Taxman says:

    The “new” Portal is just some extra challenge levels seriously people need to stop getting worked up that its on XBLA.

    FYI the eerily accurate but now defunct Surfer Girl blog stated that Fable 2 is indeed coming to the PC but not till after the console release of course & saying it’s coming out for the PC would cost them some sales in certain countries.

    I know the avatar is a Mii rip but that was only one small thing the actual new UI on the Xbox is modelled off the Zune UI which was the best thing from that. Plus it really needed a revamp badly so it’s a good thing it changed.

    As for Fallout 3 that really looked disappointing overall to me.

    You know Microsoft won the OS wars a long time ago, it doesn’t really make any money from PC gaming so I can understand why they just don’t care as much any more. The Xbox project is PC gaming repackaged everything ripped from the playbook and just their way of monetizing what they learned from supporting the PC over the years.

  13. sbs says:

    When the Glados voice started talking I first bowed my head in igriness, but when it said “XBLA exclusive” it shocked me for a second. I really felt kind of betrayed – I didn’t realize it was just some map pack.

  14. Quatrain says:

    …Marcus is still a ridiculous twat (his voice is so gravely it’s comical) but watching an entire city slide into a hole… It was like 9/11 times a thousand! So at least 91100…

    That’s the dude who voices Bender! Once you realise that he sounds much more likeable.
    Bad maths but Team America, like being Bender, qualifies you for much forgiveness.

    p.s. re: MS not making any money with Windows gaming – it’s still better than Xbox, where they’ve lost billions…

  15. TychoCelchuuu says:

    XBOX exclusive for 2008 are the words they used; I’m thinking it’ll come out on PC in 2009. Or even on PC earlier. When they say XBOX exclusive they often mean “that’s the only console.” See: Mass Effect.

  16. DSX says:

    The phrase “Games For Windows” still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. For all intensive purposes, it either means “Making games simplistically compatible with consoles” or “Making you upgrade to Vista”

  17. Paul Moloney says:

    ” Valve forsaking us all by releasing Portal: Still Alive as an Xbox Live Arcade exclusive. ”

    WHAT???!!!

    This is like hearing that Obama really _is_ a Muslim.

    P.

  18. The Hammer says:

    Peter Molyneux should have laid the smackdown onto those journalists. I know he’s capable of it!

    And a shocking E3 from MS this year. Final Fantasy XIII coming to Xbox? That’s gonna hurt Sony. OUCH.

    And hopefully Fable will eventually come to PC. Hopefully.

  19. Uriel says:

    Don’t know if you all spotted this: http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/2008/07/14/e3-final-fantasy-xiii-faqs/

    A couple of hints that FFXIII just might appear on PC sometime. As yet “to be decided”…

  20. hoohoo says:

    anyone know why valve decided to change all the characters in left 4 dead? they look stupid now.

  21. RichPowers says:

    @hoohoo
    Do you have a link to the new L4D characters?

  22. cyrenic says:

    Several sites were preemptively reporting this Portal: Still Alive thing continued the story, and that might be the source of some of the animosity. I certainly over-reacted when I read that. That it’s just map pack is no big deal (and almost surely will be released for free to steam sometime soon after the XBLA release).

  23. RichPowers says:

    The PC version of The Orange Box easily outsold the console versions; Valve would be stupid to withhold *significant* gameplay updates from the PC version.

    Besides, the 360 folks have yet to receive the class updates. The new map pack might be to hold them over until they can roll out an update.

  24. Scandalon says:

    For all intensive purposes

    Yes, but what about the less intensive purposes? Perhaps the rather laid back ones would be just as useful, no?

    :P

  25. DSX says:

    doh (= “for all intents and purposes” . . . my American public education is showing.

  26. Bhlaab says:

    Fable 2 looks stupid. Yes, let’s hang out in a virtual online pub together. We can watch all of the looping animations over and over and virtually belch.
    Quit showing off meaningless pap– nobody cares about the dog et al and if they do they’re stupid. If there’s a game buried in there somewhere show that please.

  27. Phil H says:

    No comment on the new Mirror’s Edge Trailer and level playthrough?

  28. rustdragon says:

    Mirror’s Edge has to be my favorite of all the games shown today. Better then Fable 2 and Fallout 3 combined!

  29. Saflo says:

    I’m happy to learn gunplay can be avoided in Mirror’s Edge. The theme(?) music is quite lovely, too, and I’m happy that they’ve used it again. Overall, I guess I’m pretty happy.

  30. rustdragon says:

    Anyone like the Rage trailer? I can’t help but compare it to Fallout 3, even though one is a RPG and the other a first person shooter. Or is Fallout 3 a first person shooter in disguise?

  31. roskelld says:

    I believe that MS said e3 wasn’t going to be a Games For Windows event, hence the lack of info and announcements there.

    Why it wasn’t is another question though. I think they see fighting Sony to be a bigger issue than promoting PC Gaming.

    One thing I liked about this article (aka I Want More Of It!) was the news about what people in the crowd were saying. Give us more reaction information, with quotes!

  32. Nero68 says:

    Nothing too exciting for me at this conference. Of course I’m not a fan of Xbox so. I wished there was a bigger just PC focused conference.

  33. Muzman says:

    I like that version of the Mirror’s Edge tune there, lacking the semi-acoustic guitar, a lot better.

  34. ack says:

    @Quatrain, just a tiny nit-pick, but 9/11 * 1000 is ~818.18

  35. spd from Russia says:

    when even Valve – long time advocates of pc gaming -releases a console exclusive – its time to buy a new xbex instead of a PC upgrade. or a ps3, if you dont want another rrod

  36. MeestaNob! says:

    Molyneux is a bit of an ego though. Has made nothing in ages worth the disc it came on, and even before that was often all ideas and no execution. He’s basically irrelevant nowadays. When he makes something truly good THEN it will be news, but until then he’s just using publishers not inconsiderable funds on a hollow promise of gaming nirvana. AGAIN.

    GoW2 : More of the same – fun, but overpriced. Great if you like watching NFL and thought “This would be better with guns and aliens.”

  37. Kieron Gillen says:

    I still think Fable was lovely.

    KG

  38. Quatrain says:

    ack – It’s a quote from the poster. I also am saying that it’s wrong (though I would go for 911000).

  39. Cradok says:

    FF13 for the 360? Lovely, there goes my significant – and possibly only – reason to buy a PS3.

  40. KindredPhantom says:

    FF13 for xbox360 wtf. Fable 2 not for pc, yeah i bet it’ll come eventually and with extras which will cause the 360 fanboys to winge.

  41. kadayi says:

    I fully expect we’ll see Fable 2 come to PC 6 -8 months after it’s 360 debut. I don’t think Fable set the PC world alight, but it sold fairly successfully (I enjoyed it) and a PC port is kind of inevitable, but when your there to promote the 360 platform your sponsors hardly wanting you to be diluting the good news of it’s imminent exclusive.