Interviews// Industry Insights: E3 Special

Posted 21 Jun 2013 17:10 by
E3, eh? The lights! The razzle and dazzle! The games! This year's event proved to be particularly interesting, with Microsoft and Sony going at it like ferocious tigers. And don't forget Nintendo, which proved it was still in the game with a slew of Wii U titles coming this year.

After a hard week of partying, games playing and post-conference navel-gazing, we thought now would be the best time to see what the industry at large thought of the show, with a special edition of our Industry Insights feature series. First of all, here’s a brief introduction of our panel.

01. Nathan Fouts: Head of Mommy’s Best Games (Serious Sam: Double D XXL, Game Type), currently developing the completely strange action-adventure game Pig Eat Ball for a number of platforms.

02. Dan Morse: Community and PR Manager for Oddworld Inhabitants. The studio is hard at work with Abe’s Oddysee: New N’ Tasty and took the stage at Sony’s E3 press conference to show it off on PS4.

03. Sadir Samir: Producer at Swedish indie outfit Might and Delight. The studio hit the headlines with creative platformer Pid, and is currently developing survival badger-a-thon, Shelter.

04. Andrew Smith: Founder of mobile studio Spilt Milk, previously worked with Ruffian Games on Crackdown 2 material.. Co-created Snake-like iOS hit Hard Lines, and is now making space shooter Lazarus: Ultra Robopug Adventures and arcade game Smash the Block.

05. Gordon Midwood: Head of Fresh Produce at Different Tuna. Got vastly in debt making his papercraft-inspired underwater action game, Derrick the Deathfin, but it was totally worth it. The game is ace.

06. Alex Verrey: Global PR and Comms Manager at peripheral maker MadCatz. If you ever need any quality third party gear - especially when it comes to arcade sticks - this is the company to go to. And Alex is the man that lets you know when the next big thing is being launched.

07. Dan Long: Head of Comms at video game clothes maker Insert Coin Tees. These are the guys you need to thank for the awesome array of hoodies, shirts and apparel that you see kicking about at game conventions. Dat Shenmue hoodie.

08. Dave Cook: UK News Editor for professional games blog VG247. A formidable reporting powerhouse, if we ever saw one. He’s also Scottish, which gives him bonus street cred.

Without further ado, let’s see what our panel thought of the show last week. Please note that these questions were asked ahead of Microsoft’s dramatic U-turn on its Xbox One DRM policies, so our panel's answers will reflect this.

What was your highlight of E3 2013?

Nathan Fouts: Dark Sorcerer got me excited for hardware again. Let's see some horsepower! I like to be wowed by tech when new consoles come around, and so far they've not seemed terribly powerful. But that video Quantic Dream put together was pretty interesting in terms of animation, especially the full length version recently released. 

Dan Morse: Seeing our game shown off on the Sony stage. It was pretty intense for the team leading up to the show, but it was certainly worth it! We’ve been really lucky, with Sony and Nintendo both asking us to be on their platforms, it’s been a good E3 for indies.

Sadir Samir: My personal highlight of E3 are how many great games developed in Sweden were shown at E3 this year. Sweden is a very small country, and it is just awesome and inspiring to see how much talent exist here. Proud Swede here :)

Andrew Smith: Sony undercutting Microsoft with the PS4 price. The whoops and hollering were deafening, and it’s nice to see the two big dogs fighting hard. It’s good for the gamers!

Gordon Midwood: Like everyone else, I was greatly heartened by Sony's approach to gaming in general and indies in particular with the PS4. Great to see!

Alex Verrey: The war of words and intent by Sony and Microsoft was like watching gladiators at work. Impressive and highly entertaining. There’s obviously a lot to play for! Oh, the fried chicken from the food truck at Sony’s pre-briefing party was awesome as well.

Dan Long: I think it's difficult not to be blown away by the way Sony handled the whole expo. They gave the people what they wanted and they really put on a show that matched the mood of the 'gaming nation'. They have clearly been thinking long and hard about what they can offer for this incoming generation of consoles and they look to be coming out, all guns blazing.

Dave Cook: That ruddy Metal Gear Solid 5 trailer - the extended cut I mean, not the one with all the horse-play. I just love the way Kojima and his team can trigger a worldwide hype-gasm through a single trailer with such repeated success. There are hidden secrets everywhere in that clip which point to what might be going on in the game, and giving us plenty to scrutinise and debate/argue/moan about that it made for a fascinating watch. That, and the game is looking rather splendid too.

What was the most disappointing element of E3 2013?

Dan Morse: For the company, definitely Microsoft’s indie policy. They are basically the last bastion of the old publishing guard.

Sadir Samir: I feel I have to join the choir on this one... I was really hoping that Microsoft was going to pick itself up after the Xbox One reveal, but it seems people are more negative now and it's a shame because I understand and feel their frustration. I question some of the choices that have lead to this. What I find more sad is that some really great games were shown for the platform, and old IP's revived, but all of that has fallen in the shadows of discussions about DRM, online verification and rape jokes. The Xbox One is a really powerful platform and I think it would be great to develop for it, so as I said, it's a shame how negative the reception has been.

Andrew Smith: For me, it was no Metroid from Retro Studios. But it was bittersweet BECAUSE DONKEY KONG! For most people, I’ll bet it was the lack of ‘running’ footage in Mirror’s Edge 2.

Gordon Midwood: Definitely the tales of sexual harassment that having been coming out these past few days. Disgusting.

Alex Verrey: The fried chicken ran out too quickly. No new Uncharted and no new Gears of War, guess I shouldn’t be so tied to old franchises…..

Dan Long: I think the most disappointing part of this E3 was Xbox. Not with what they were presenting necessarily, but with the overall reception their message got. I might be guilty of seeing the best in people, but I think MS were trying to balance consumer expectation of buying something physical with moving to a purely digital service like Spotify, iTunes or Steam. Sadly, media hype, fed by gamer entitlement, seemed to overtake any rational breakdown of what was actually being presented. Hopefully over the next few months all will become clear - as a gamer, I want to see several good systems, rather than just one dominant force.

Dave Cook: I'd say Microsoft's poor handling of the Xbox One shite-storm, but I expected many gamers to hurl rocks at them regardless. As always for me it's the fact that Streets of Rage 4 didn't get announced in any shape or form. I'm dead serious. Make it happen Sega, I'll crowd fund it personally if you want. Go on. That and I think the Call of Duty dog is a daft, daft, daft mechanic. No bones about it, it's looking a bit ruff around the edges. Woof.

What game would you say was the standout title of the show (besides your own)?

Nathan Fouts: I did not get to play it personally but the written accounts of playing the EVR demo using the Oculus Rift make it sound excellent. I can't wait to see how impressive and immersive the hardware and the right game turn out to be.

Dan Morse: I was wowed by the potential of quite a few games. As a sucker for tactical sims a la Tom Clancy, The Division intrigues me. Same for Destiny and Watch_Dogs.

Sadir Samir: Ubisoft are not kidding right now, I can tell you that. The hype from last year's E3 announcement Watch_Dogs is going even stronger now. The game looks absolutely amazing, and even this year Ubisoft surprised us again with Tom Clancy's - The Divison and completely stole the show. 

Andrew Smith: The standout game has to be Pikmin 3. It’s just too good, classic Nintendo. Out of the ‘unnannounced’ games – and looking across platforms - I’m really looking forward to Below, Titanfall, The Witcher 3 and Knack. Part of me wants that to be the new Jak & Daxter… in other words surprisingly fun, upbeat and addictive!

Gordon Midwood: Easy! It was the best looking game of E3 that that everybody except me seems to have missed - Stick It To The Man!

Alex Verrey: Tom Clancy’s The Division looked awesome did it not?

Dan Long: For the second E3 in a row, Watch_Dogs looks like the game to beat. Ubi seem to have cornered the market for these clever, well-constructed adventures and it would be fantastic to see it gain the overwhelming popularity of Assassin's Creed and the accolades of the awesome Far Cry 3

Dave Cook: Titanfall got me very excited indeed, just because the world had been waiting to see what Respawn was up to, and for the fact that it looks genuinely fun. What's not to love about big stompy robots and both men and ladies pulling off parkour with their legs while the Source engine purrs underneath? Oh yeah, it's not been slated for a PS4 release. But really, I'm sure it will in due time, keep the faith Sony fans, it'll happen I'm sure.

Did you attend E3 2013? How would you rate the experience and atmosphere compared to past years?

Dan Morse: Oddworld Inhabitants did… Lorne (Lanning) was even on the Sony stage! The feedback we got in the office was “did you guys hear the cheering when our game flashed up?” It would have been nice to go, but as Lorne said to me: “once is enough for anyone.”

Gordon Midwood: I did not attend E3 2013. In fact I have never attended E3... I rated the experience and atmosphere slightly worse than it was in previous years.

Alex Verrey: Yep, I was there and loved every minute of it, the best E3 for the last five years.  The atmosphere really was charged.  Emotions are running deep and gamers are excited again.  I think the gamers are going to the ultimate winner in the next generation battle, we’re in for exciting times.

Dan Long: I've still not been to E3 yet, but hope to soon. It certainly seems to get better year on year, with more focus on how games can be driven forward and improve the experience for the people that really matter - us gamers.

Dave Cook: I didn't, no, I was too busy looking at people's photos of steaks and cocktails in jealousy while writing articles from the cold recesses of the Scottish climate. But even from here I could feel the excitement, and the impact of Sony's press conference really did set the internet alight with anticipation. I've never seen a press conference batter the opposition wit such unrelenting force as Sony and friends. It wasn't perfect mind - no conference is - but still, lovely stuff. 

Many, many, many thanks to our panel of guests who took the time to answer these short questions for us! Check out more Industry Insights below.

Jun 2013: Dan Griliopoulos, Journalist
Jun 2013: Antti Ilvessuo, RedLynx
Jun 2013: Dominic Matthews, Ninja Theory
Jun 2013: 'Peter Molydeux', Gaming Genius
Jun 2013: Ste Pickford, Zee-3
Jun 2013: Andy Payne, O.B.E.
Jun 2013: Gordon Midwood, Different Tuna

Apr 2013: Nathan Fouts, Mommy's Best Games
Apr 2013: Andrew Smith, Spilt Milk Studios
Apr 2013: Antti Ilvessuo, RedLynx
Apr 2013: Peter Molydeux, Gaming Genius
Apr 2013: Paul Rustchynsky, Evolution Studios
Mar 2013: Gordon Midwood, Different Tuna
Mar 2013: Theo Sanders, Ubisoft Singapore
Mar 2013: Dan Webb, X360A
Mar 2013: Stewart Gilray, Just Add Water / Oddworld Inhabitants

Mar 2013: Alex Neuse, Gaijin Games
Feb 2013: Blazej Krakowiak, Techland
Feb 2013: Gina Jackson, Women in Games Jobs
Feb 2013: Stewart Gilray, Just Add Water & Oddworld Inhabitants
Feb 2013: Dominic Matthews, Ninja Theory
Jan 2013: Dan Webb, X360A
Jan 2013: Antti Ilvessuo, RedLynx
Jan 2013: Andy Payne, O.B.E.
Jan 2013: Gordon Midwood, Different Tuna
Jan 2013: Andrew Smith, Spilt Milk Studios
Jan 2013: Theo Sanders, Ubisoft Singapore
Jan 2013: Paul Rustchynsky, Evolution Studios

Jan 2013: Peter Molydeux, Genius
Jan 2013: Andy Payne O.B.E.
Jan 2013: David Jaffe
Jan 2013: Jon Lander of CCP
Dec 2012: Martyn Brown, InsightforHire
Dec 2012: Steve Lycett, SUMO Digital
Dec 2012: Theo Sanders, Ubisoft Singapore
Dec 2012: Ted Price, CEO Insomniac
Dec 2012: Paul Rustchynsky, Evolution Studios
Dec 2012: Antti Ilvessuo, RedLynx

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