THQ Boots Homefront, Warhammer Kill Team Developers


I always hate to see news like this but THQ has decided to part ways with Homefront developer Kaos Studios. This does NOT mean the end of Homefront the franchise, just Homefront, the developer.

PR Ahead:

THQ confirmed today that it has made a strategic realignment within its internal studio structure and is in the process of closing two locations: the company’s UK studio and KAOS studio in New York. Both studios’ employees have been informed.

THQ continues its strategy of aligning the best industry talent with the company’s marquee franchises. (Being a publicly traded company). The Montreal studio will take over product development and overall creative management for the Homefront franchise. The Montreal studio actively collaborated with KAOS on Homefront.

The company continues to strengthen its internal creative development expertise and is actively hiring in many of its internal studios, including Montreal and Vancouver, Canada, as well as Austin, Texas. THQ’s UK studio and KAOS employees will have the opportunity to interview for open positions with the company globally.

Jumping the Shark Podcast #75


No High Scores
Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For this lovely Monday morning (well, it’s lovely here in Indy), we bring you our Day 3 wrap-up episode of Jumping the Shark, which features the usual cast, plus return appearances from Tom Chick, Jason McMaster, and Brian Rowe. Hear all about Square’s big lineup, Driver: San Francisco, Saints Row 3, Metro Last Light, and some of the games of IndyCade, which including our first exposure to gaming with a kiss-driven controller. No, for reals. I wrote all about it in my day-3 wrap-up.

Direct Download
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Past Episodes
(Embedded feed included after the break.)

The top “small” games of E3 2011

You don’t typically go to E3 for the little guys – indies, downloadable games, really, anything that doesn’t position itself as a potential blockbuster. No way, you go for the show-stoppers, the AAA’s, the ear-splitting volume, the flashy trailers. The whole thing reeks of Hollywood/Vegas showmanship and big, honking budgets.

Over the last year or two, however, I’ve gotten more and more interested in games that don’t necessarily come in a $60 box. So while I was at E3, I kept my eyes peeled for future favorite “snack” games.

Here are a few of the very best (at least, from what I could tell by their demos)…

Skulls of the Shogun
I hijacked the Indiecade booth tour mostly so I could get some hands on time with Haunted Temple Studio’s debut game, a totally funky action/turn based strategy game starring a dead samurai. I was able to talk to developers Borut Pfeifer and Jake Kazdul about the team’s design philosophy (they’re all action gamers who were looking for more depth) and the genesis of the game’s wacked-out storyline (Jake Kazdul’s time in Japan, checking out actual Shinto temples).

Bastion
I had never heard of this game before coming upon it in the Warner booth, and it totally made my day. It’s an action RPG with a completely awesome art style (the neon-hued world assembles right in front of you) and the best use of VO in a game that I’ve ever seen (everything you do in-game, from attacking the enemies to finding power-ups, is announced by the “storyteller”).

War of the Worlds
I wasn’t allowed to talk about this game until today (hooray, NDA!), but now that I can, it will be hard not to gush. It’s an absolutely beautiful 2D game done in the style of Out Of This World, with black and white graphics accented by splashed of color. Your main job in the title is to evade the nasty alien machines that are attacking mankind – and the protagonist must survive the onslaught and get to his loved ones before it’s too late. Maybe it’s the graphics, the lack of Tom Cruise, or the voiceover by Patrick Stewart, but this struck me as the classiest damned game of E3, hands down.

Prime World
I can’t tell you how shocked I was how much I liked this game. I went to Nival’s booth thinking this was one of those lame appointments that everyone must endure – but I was so, so wrong. After explaining the design philosophy of the game (social strategy – combining casual/social gameplay with hardcore strategy), we got to play, and I was immediately hooked. It really does blend social aspects (with world building, a Zuma-like puzzle mini-game, and Facebook friend support) with classic RTS gameplay – and it has a few bright new ideas as well (including a territory/terraforming mechanic that gives combat bonuses to whichever faction claims the area). I’ll never pre-judge a Facebook game before playing it again.

Closing the Book on E3 2011

So, another E3 down.

The Monday after E3, which usually means the day after I sit at my computer for around 20 hours posting that Mega E3 GameShark Preview, which always tests the limits of my ability to do mundane HTML work without crying, is also a day of reflection.

After three days of sensory overload, I like to look back over my notes, skim other site’s coverage and try to think about what was actually worth seeing at the show. It’s not always obvious. Then there’s the yearly sad truth of not being able to see everything.

So it’s time for me to close the book on this year’s E3 with a quick look at what I liked and what I didn’t and what I missed…

The E3 Surprise:

Prey 2

Not only a surprise, but one of the coolest things I saw at E3, period. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise: this game looked original, beautiful and nothing at all like, well, Prey. Open world Blade Runner bounty hunting shooter? Yes, please. I saw this presentation with Tom, Brandon, and Todd and we all came away thinking, “Well, that was certainly unexpected.” We told Brian Rowe, my assistant at Gshark, how cool it looked and we could see the skepticism in his eyes but after he got a look at the demo, he was sold, too. Now, keep in mind this game is a long ways off — sometime in 2012 and these E3 demos are staged to show you exactly what the developers want, but it’s definitely on the right track.

Metro Last Light

This demo, which was another ‘sit in a dark room and watch 15 minutes of gameplay and then leave’, was not so much a surprise based on what we SAW , but the fact that THQ was really pushing the game — this was GREAT to see. It had its own display, its own little metro subway train prop, THQ looks to really be behind this thing and man…that’s encouraging. As for the demo itself? Yep, that’s Metro, all right. Still, I was confused when I asked the developer post show about the notion of dirty/pristine ammo and he wouldn’t answer me. If they take that out…no…they won’t do that…

Would they?

The Not So Surprises of E3

Pretty much everything.

Skyrim looked like a pretty Oblivion. Not that it looked BAD–it didn’t. It looked like a game that will be devoured by its fans. But it also looked like a safe continuation of the series, only with dragons and a lot of shouting. Best part of the Skyrim demo? When this HUGE spider appeared on the big screen, dripping with venom and Todd, sitting next to me, went all squishy with fear. I think I heard a “Oh lord” from him at one point. A show highlight for sure.

Assassin’s Creed Revelations, again, looked really “safe”. I’m sure I’ll play it and will most likely enjoy it a great deal as I love the series but if you want some big new gameplay twist, it wasn’t on display at E3. Ezio is an old man and still jumps around like a spry 20 year old. He also has a hook blade of some sort. Otherwise, yep, that’s Assassin’s Creed all right.

BioShock Infinite’s demo was really good, which wasn’t a surprise. But again these demo presentations are more like expanded trailers. We are all huddled into a mini movie theater and sit in the dark watching BioShock Infinite for like 15 minutes and then we all leave. I have the uptmost confidence that Infinite will be good/great, you have to consider the developer’s track record here and the gameplay demo we saw was admittedely neat, but the highlight of the demo for me was watching the PR guy walk the room like a jailor looking to see if anyone was recording the demo, which is a big no no. I think I missed a good 5 minutes of the demo watching that guy prowl the room. We were innocent, turns out.

Saints Row The Third was a 25 minute demo of non stop laughter. Purple dildos, bobble head masks of Johnny Gat, and numerous groin shots. Nothing truly surprising here either, but a needed break from the “serious” tone of most games at the show. Must play.

Mass Effect 3 looked like Mass Effect with more explosions. You talk about a demo that had no surprises of any kind — that was Mass Effect 3. I’m ready for this series to be over.

Based on what Tom and Jason told me, Modern Warfare 3 looks safer than Fort Knox.

The Games I actually PLAYED at E3:

Space Marine:

Everyone I spoke to liked this. I have concerns, mostly canonical. Either these three Ultramarines are blessed by the emperor or these orks are the worst orks of all time.

Assassin’s Creed Multiplayer:

I killed two targets, one civilian, and got knifed once. Yep, that’s Assassin’s Creed.

Driver San Francisco:

Loved it. I normally don’t play driving games and when I do I’m laughably bad at them but this MP demo was a blast.

Madden, NCAA, and FIFA:

FIFA wins.

RAGE:

I didn’t technically play this but I watched other people play it for a good 15 minutes. (Long lines) That’s a shooter all right. It had shotguns and everything.

Other bits:

I wish now I would have seen Dead Island as it sounds MUCH better than I anticipated. Hell even Tom liked the demo at E3. Same with Tomb Raider — it sounds like the series is finally moving back to relevance.

The funny thing …with all of the big, expensive, loud demos from E3 the game I want to play the most?

Crusader Kings II. I’m old.

Calendar Man – Week of 6/13

No High Scores

It figures that the first Calendar Man after E3 is filled with like a bazillion games. What the hell games? Don’t you know that it’s June and I’m tired? I can’t be bothered to write up all of these games!

This week has a metric ton of movie Transformers games, the return of Alice, a JRPG prequel and finally, at long last, the release of Duke Nukem Forever. Finally, our long national nightmare is over. Now gaming can go back to not caring about Duke any more. Hallelujah.

On to the games!

New Releases
If you like a little psychosis with your gaming, and honestly, who doesn’t, maybe give Alice: Madness Returns a try. Yay psychosis!

Yet another Wiimote bundled game thingy is out this week, this time with a fancy new Wiimote that has MotionPlus bundled in it. With the Wii sales on decline, it will be interesting to see how Wii Play Motion with Black Wii Remote Plus sells. Oh wait, I forgot. I honestly don’t care.

At one point, there was an Agarest War, and someone made a record of it. Someone also made a record of the war before the war, a War Zero, if you will. They also made games about it. It’s also possible that I have no idea what I’m talking about, however that hasn’t stopped me yet.

Child Of Eden is some funky ass Kinect game. Honestly that’s all I know about it. Funky, ass and Kinect. Go forth and purchase!

The Transformers movie games traditionally haven’t been very good, however now they’re being developed by the people who made War for Cybertron, which may not bode well for some of you. I quite liked War For Cybertron myself. Granted, not enough to pick up a Transformers movie game, but maybe some of these will end up being decent. Dare to dream.

Cubic Ninja is a game for the 3DS in which you tilt a Ninja to victory. You can also use the circle pad if you choose. Sounds exciting!

I think Wipeout is hilarious as it pushes the buttons in my brain that respond to people smashing into giant, inflatable balls and then falling into water. Not sure how well Wipeout In the Zone recreates the show with nothing but an 360 and Kinect, but if you smash into your coffee table while playing it, I’d love to see it.

Duke Nukem Forever is finally out and early reviews say it sucks. Wow. I am shocked. Utterly shocked. I have a feeling Mr. Pitchford will be wrong and this game will be much easier to review than he thinks. I always find it easier to review crappy games, regardless of how long it took to make them.

Deals
Toys R Us – Free $10 gift card with purchase of PSP-3000 Father’s Day bundle. Wow. Haven’t seen a PSP on sale in any capacity in quite some time. This bundle includes MLB 11: The Show and Gran Turismo. Free $50 gift card with purchase of either 320GB PS3 Move bundle or Xbox 360 250GB Slim. Free Duke Nukem figure with purchase of Duke Nukem Forever. Save $20 with purchase of Green Lantern game (360, PS3, Wii) and Green Lantern: Emerald Knights on DVD. Wipeout in the Zone on sale for $34.99. Portal 2 on sale for $39.99. Child of Eden, RF: Armageddon and WWE All-Stars on sale for $49.99. Buy one game, get one at 40% off for all games up to $19.99. 15% off all PSN, Xbox Live, Nintendo and iTunes cards.

Target – Free $50 gift card with purchase of Xbox 360 Kinect bundle. Free copy of CoD:MW2 with purchase of CoD:BLOPS. Free $60 gift card with purchase of 160GB PS3. Wii Fit Plus on sale for $69. Buy one, get 50% off on over a hundred titles including, but not limited to, Mortal Kombat, Crysis 2 and Red Faction: Armageddon. Check store or online for all games included in the offer.

Best Buy – Buy one, get one at 50% off on the following titles (360 or PS3 only): Dirt 3, SOCOM 4, MLB 11: The Show, Mortal Kombat, Red Faction: Armageddon, Homefront, Operation Flashpoint: Red River, Marvel vs Capcom 3, Thor, Portal 2, TW PGA Tour 12, Crysis 2, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean, LA Noire, inFAMOUS 2.

Kmart – Save $10 on the following games: LA Noire, Brink, CoD:BLOPS, Medal of Honor. Save $20 on the following games: Homefront, Red Faction: Armageddon, WWE All-Stars, Dirt 3, Portal 2, TW PGA Tour 12, Killzone 3, Mass Effect 2 (PS3), Fight Night Champion, Marvel vs Capcom 3. Dead Space 2 and Bulletstorm for $29.99. $20 gaming coupon with purchase of Duke Nukem Forever. $15 gaming coupon with purchase of Child of Eden or Alice: Madness Returns.

Steam – You can save $20 on Dead Rising 2 or save $25 on DC Universe Online. That’s half off! All this and more on the specials page.

Impulse – Impulse has the new Medal of Honor for ten bucks. Impulse also has a specials page.

The E3 A-Z Monster Guide

No High Scores

No Sunday Time Waster today because believe me — I wasn’t wasting time. I’ve spent the entire weekend writing, editing, formatting, and coding up the GameShark E3 A-Z guide. There something like 147 previews in this thing — some small, some not.

And after last week and this weekend’s editing grind, I think I need to sleep for like, oh, 48 hrs.

Enjoy GameShark’s E3 A-Z Guide.

Don't Shoot the Food – E3 Edition

No High Scores

The California Pizza Kitchen (referred to as CPK or C-PAK) tradition started my first E3. We were all walking back to the hotel from the convention center and as we walked down Figueroa, we’d pass bars and restaurants but nothing caught our eye. Eventually we got to the CPK and, realizing this was the last restaurant before we’d have to turn down 7th to our hotel, we decided to eat there. We ended up eating there every night of the show because we knew it was there, they let us stay forever and it was far enough from the convention center to not get too crowded. We’d sit back, bullshit, laugh, eat and talk to tons of other other show-goers about everything they saw that day. One night we saw Dan Hsu chatted up by what looked like groupies. Groupies or escorts. True story.

The next year we went back to the CPK every night as well as it had become a tradition by then. I remember the last night of the show, watching the Lakers game on the CPK television and telling Bill we had to get going, like now, because the game was almost over and regardless of how the final score went down, that city was going to explode. The Lakers won, the city did explode and all night we were treated to sirens, helicopters and gunfire. The AC unit in the room was busted which meant sleeping with the windows open and enjoying the cacophony of a city that just lost its shit over a basketball game.

I love going to E3, but I love the CPK even more as it’s a chance to talk to everyone and unwind after a day that ranges from genuine “holy crap, I gotta play this now” interest to “I can’t believe I have 29 more minutes of this demo” dis-interest. All in all, it’s quite tiring and come the end of the day, a beer and a pizza is the perfect pick-me-up before a long night of podcasting and writing.

So, with that in mind, I decided to dust off my recipe for Pepperoni Pizza, revised over the years to meet the approval of my wife’s refined pizza palate. In the interest of saving time, I’m taking this wholesale from my old blog. It’s not plagiarism if I copy from myself, right?

Pepperoni Pizza, Binky Style

Ingredients
1. 1 pizza dough from Publix, thawed if previously frozen and taken out of the fridge for 2.5 hours – feel free to make your own dough. I find it too time consuming and not worth it. Maybe you’re a dough-master, so do whatever floats your dough boat.
2. Classico tomato and basil pasta sauce – I’ve tried a bunch of sauces, even made my own, and we like this one best. It’s somewhat understated, which is good as my wife doesn’t like a real bright sauce.
3. Kroger pizza cheese – This one is very important. Mozzarella isn’t flavorful enough, so this cheese is a blend of five cheeses including mozzarella, parmesan, reggiano and other ones that I can’t remember. Kraft makes one too if you live somewhere without a Kroger.
4. Crushed red pepper flakes
5. Boar’s Head sliced pepperoni – For us, this pepperoni is over by the deli counter, not with the sausage and other pork products. Look for it and pay the extra. It’s well worth it.

Cooking Steps
1. Preheat your oven to 450. I set the racks so that I have one closer to the top of the oven and one closer to the bottom and shift the pizza between the two. Obviously, your oven will be different so position things accordingly.
2. Roll out your dough for a 16 inch pizza pan. If you have a pan with a slight lip, use it. This will make the crust’s edge a bit thicker, and thereby tastier. You don’t need something as deep as a deep dish pan, maybe a lip of like half an inch.
3. Once the dough is rolled out, spray your pizza pan with cooking spray and place the dough on the pan.
4. When the oven is ready, poke the dough all over with a fork. This will keep large air bubbles from forming when the crust is baking.
5. If you’re only using one oven rack position, bake the crust for 8 minutes. If using two, bake it on the bottom rack for 4 minutes, and then the top for another 4 minutes.
6. Remove the crust from the oven after 8 minutes. Spoon the sauce on the crust one to two spoonfuls at a time. I use a soup spoon, as in a spoon for eating soup, not one for stirring or making soup. It’s very important that you just get the sauce, no tomato chunks. Use the spoon to smooth the sauce all over the crust. You don’t want to over do the sauce. A little goes a long way. When you’re done, the crust should look like it was painted with a light coating of sauce, not completely covered with it. Obviously you can put on as much or as little sauce as you want, but this is the way I do it and it’s been working pretty well. It ends up being about 3 – 4 spoonfuls of sauce. Spread the sauce so that it comes up to about an inch from the edge of the crust.
7. Cover the entire crust with cheese. I use almost an entire 2 cup bag, however you can put on as much as you want. Make sure you evenly coat the crust.
8. Sprinkle a liberal coating of crushed red pepper over the cheese.
9. Put your pepperonin on the cheese so that the pepperoni doesn’t overlap, but instead touches edge to edge. Working from the outer edge of the sauce inwards, you should be able to get 3 – 4 rings of pepperoni, depending on the size of the pan, with a slice in the middle.
10. Take another handful of cheese and sprinkle it all over the pepperoni. This may not sound important but it is very important. As the pizza cooks, the pepperoni will lose some grease. The cheese will melt and mix with the grease, so that when you brown up the top, it makes a really tasty mini-crust.
11. Throw the pizza back in the oven for 10 minutes. 5 on the bottom rack and 5 on the top if you’re going the dual rack way.
12. After ten minutes take a look at the pizza, you want the top to be bubbling slightly with a slightly brown color. You don’t want the cheese to burn, but you don’t want it whitish either. You should hear the pepperoni sizzling slightly. If you’re going with one rack position, take the pizza out, raise the rack, and put the pizza back in with the oven light on so that you can watch the pizza until it’s ready.
13. Take the pizza out, slice it up and enjoy. Be sure to have plenty of beverages on hand because between the pepperoni and the pepper, you’ll need something to drink.

Much like CPK at E3, Friday night pizzas have become a tradition at my house. I always look forward to Friday night for the obvious weekend related reasons, but being able to make a pizza, kick back with a beer and relax is also pretty high up there. Oh pizza, is there nothing you can’t do?

Still hungry? Check out the Don’t Shoot the Food archive.

Danielle's Deluxe E3 Day 3 Thoughts

No High Scores

The sun has set on yet another E3, and good lord, did I see a lot of games today. I’m pleasantly surprised to report that it was a really, really good day – there were no clunkers among the bunch, and several top-notch experiences. This was probably my best E3 yet – I saw plenty of good stuff that I was excited about before the show, both the big show-stopping productions and the little gems that I’ll be gushing all over on the podcast for months to come.

So here’s a quick recap of my day (some of this will be cross-posted over at the mothership, but this is the expanded, unedited director’s cut), complete with cursory, bullet-point thoughts on the games of the day.

I began the day with what I was expecting to be a weak appointment, at Nival – a Russian developer of strategy and social games. They were showing off Prime World, a Facebook game that they pitched as a mix of hardcore PVP strategy and casual/social gameplay.

It sounds like a train wreck – all that jargon in one sentence, but I actually found the game to be a very pleasant mix – with a really cool environmental bonus system and a Zuma-like optional minigame that yields combat bonuses.

After this totally pleasant little surprise, it was heavy hitter after heavy hitter. I saw Nintendo and got some serious hands-on time with the Wii U. I got my paws on the space combat game and chase/hide and seek demos that were shown briefly in Nintendo’s presser – both were simple, but lots of fun, and they sold me on the promise of asymmetric multiplayer with the new controller and the regular old Wii-motes.

I also got to play the new Luigi’s Mansion, 3D Mario Kart and Super Mario 3D on the 3DS. I’ll give you the bullet points – I love the 3D effect in Luigi, and I’m absolutely thrilled they’re making a new title in this hideously underrated series. Mario Kart played perfectly – the 3D is awesome, and I loved the underwater and hang glider elements. Super Mario 3D played like a strange combo of something a bit like Galaxy and something a bit like a 3D version of Super Mario 3.

After that, I crashed the Indiecade booth and took a peek at Skulls of the Shogun, had an amazingly surreal E3 experience with two experimental games (listen to the podcast early next week for the details), and had plenty of time to really just shoot the shit with the developers. Indies are really getting to be my thing these days – as someone who’s learning the ropes of development myself, it’s awesome to have unlimited access to these guys, who are almost unanimously friendly, passionate and open about their creative processes. I talked rotoscoping, engines, marketing, color schemes, all sorts of good, nerdy stuff with these guys, and could have spent a full day of E3 in that booth, just sampling the wares and chatting.

Alas, the AAA games drew me back in – I saw Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy XIII – 2 (just pick a number system already), and Deus Ex: Human Revolution in the Square-Enix booth, then finished my day – and my E3 – on an extraordinarily high note with a demo of BioShock Infinite.

So there it is. I had an absolute blast this year, and definitely feel like I’m getting into more of a comfortable groove with the whole E3 thing (in terms of balancing the networking, the reporting, the schedule juggling and the story-hunting), and always awesome to see my fabulous colleagues.

Until next year, E3. Until next year.

Todd's E3 Day 3 Wrap-up


No High Scores

Between Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Tomb Raider, and Hitman: Absolution, Square Enix, which I visited today, had one heck of a show, but they weren’t the most interesting or bizarre display, oh no. That credit goes to IndyCade. It’s all straight ahead in my day 3 E3 wrap-up…

First, Square Enix and Deus Ex. As a fan of the original PC game, it was a huge relief to see a demo emphasize the different ways main character Adam Jensen could tackle a particular quest. They referred to the game’s four pillars of play: Combat, stealth, dialog, and tech/hacking. Every path through the game will supposedly allow you to approach it from one of those angles. We saw a stealth approach to one of the game’s missions, and were told that, bosses aside, Jensen doesn’t have to kill anyone from the game’s beginning to end. We also saw a several of his augmentations at work and the variety of ways they can help Jensen accomplish his goals should provide players with plenty of impactful gameplay choices.

We didn’t see as much diversity from Tomb Raider, which really borrows heavily from Heavy Rain in implementing quicktime-like events, but that doesn’t mean the game didn’t look extremely promising. We didn’t get to see any combat, but I love the Lara Croft reboot as they bring a real sense of humanity to her that goes so far beyond the cartoon character of yore.

And Hitman… that game left me blissfully uncomfortable. I’ve never played a Hitman game before, but I know their dark reputation. This game, which also looks gorgeous, showed off a Chicago-based level in which Agent 47 is the subject of a manhunt. Police have tracked him to a large, evidently abandoned building, and he has to stealth and battle his way out. Watching him evade the police, as we heard the cops talk about their families or give each other a hard time, set up a really difficult to watch sequence when 47 started murdering them to progress. As he held one poor sod hostage only to hear the cop apologize to his sergeant for his predicament I realized just how emotionally involved this brief demo got me. I’m not sure I’ll play the game or not -some of that stuff made me extremely uncomfortable; must be getting old- but for fans of the series, this should be an excellent new entry.

Then there is IndyCade. If you’re not familiar with IndyCade, think of it as an attempt to do for independent game development what Sundance does for independent film. This October annual event has been going on for about five years now and features games of every possible stripe and environment. At E3 they had live-action games on display (in which people are the game), traditional small dev team efforts like Skulls of the Shogun (a turn based XBLA strategy game) and Desktop Dungeon (reminiscent of a C64 game called Sword of Fargoal), and some stuff that could only be described as purely experimental. (Both the above games are well worth checking out.) 

One such experimental effort, not even sure it could be called a game, was based on use of what designer Hye Yeon Nam calls a Kiss Controller. Think lovers, not face-painted rock bands. In this game one partner dons a headset, while another uses fixadent to affix a tiny circular magnet to their tongue. Then they make out, the movement of the magnet relative to the headset determining something about how an on-screen bowling ball is manipulated to strike pins. I’m still not remotely sure what determines this, but I do know I scored great. (Sadly, I had to hold the headset to my mouth and pretend to make out.)

In a related vain was Jason Arnott’s Deep Sea. I didn’t get to experience this first hand as Danielle and I spent our time talking to Arnott while Gameshark colleague Jason McMaster played the game, but I wish I had been able to try it. Arnott is a professional sound designer who likes to experiment with using gameplay to affect human emotion. Deep Sea is intended to bring out fear and anxiety in the player by putting them in an old style gas mask in which the player cannot see and has limited ability to breath. Headphones then convey the sense the player is deep underwater with malevolent sea creatures on the attack. Breathing heavily attracts the creatures and all the player can do is try to fire a weapon (using a flight stick) to fend them off. The game will always end in failure and Jason M. found the experience every bit as harrowing as Arnott intended for it to be. He’s hoping for his next project to play with evoking positive, even euphoric emotions; if it’s successful, that could be quite something to experience. 

No, these aren’t games that would ever be sold on a shelf, but that’s not the goal for people like Nam and Arnott. The experience is the goal and an organization like IndyCade helps make sure people get to see their visions. If you find yourself in Culver City this October you owe it to yourself to check this event out.

E3 Day Three Thoughts

No High Scores

Wow. I am really, really tired and I still have to pack. As a result, I’m going to be brief and I’ll write more next week when I’m more coherent.

Bullet points! Woo!

1. Saints Row: The Third looks great. It looked like it was a movie made from playing the game, rather than a live gameplay demo, but man, there was some over the top shit there. This dude was knocking down pedestrians with wrestling moves when he wasn’t smacking them around with a giant, purple dildo or blowing them up with the Apocafists.

2. Space Marine was lots of gory fun. Killing orks is a hoot and splitting them in two to get health back is an awesome mechanic.

3. Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon looks to be a ton of giant insect fun. The various character classes look interesting and the ability to have two squad mates with you at all times makes killing insects much easier, which means they just throw more at you.

4. Dead Island was a little slow for my tastes, but we played co-op and the people we were playing with didn’t stick together or communicate which meant I got killed a lot because people would throw knife-bombs into zombies I was next to and then detonate them without telling me first. Plus, I was playing as the tank character which meant the zombies were flocking to me. There is some interesting variety to the zombies, including zombies in football helmets that you have to incapacitate by breaking their legs, which was kind of odd as I don’t know why a zombie would put on a helmet. I don’t know, maybe it was because the co-op just wasn’t doing it for me, but my interest in this game is somewhat lessened. We’ll see.

5. Finally, Heroes of Ruin looks pretty damn good. Square is going to support the game for a year after its release with daily releases of items, quests and challenges via SpotPass and you can trade unwanted items via StreetPass. The combat looks good, the dungeons are randomly generated as you traverse them and the game supports four player drop-in, drop-out co-op over the internet. Finally, an online game I want to play on the 3DS.

That’s it for me. It was a good show and I saw a ton of good games, but even with what I saw, I still didn’t see some of the really heavy hitters like BioShock Infinite, Deus Ex or Assassins Creed: Revelations. Oh well, I guess that’s what Game Informer is for.