E3: My Journey, Figuratively and Literally – Part 4
Thank the good lord for the utter brilliance of music. When you’ve been awake for nineteen hours a day for the last four days and you’re in dire need of sleep, I’m glad I can get Jimmy Eat World or Funeral For a Friend to wake me the fuck up. It can’t be dance or any of that ‘Rhythm and Blues’ shit. If I want the same shit repeated to me over a long term basis, I’ll go to a Nintendo Conference. Aside from Sony and Ubisoft, the conferences, by and large, have been a real kick to the crotch of videogamers this year. Nintendo have given us the poorest showing in years and at this stage my loyalty waivers, all because of that golden triangle and, what is for me, the epitome of a fight between good and evil. If Nintendo sold off the Legend of Zelda license, I’d be dropping them faster than Microsoft forgetting that an Xbox should be for games and not everything else. Don’t know who I’m kidding; no-one can move that fast.
All that conference stuff aside, what about E3? Well in a word, it’s fucking tremendous. It has blown away any expectations I had and raised the bar to a stupidly high level. I’m not even sure what I expected in the end. I think the shock of actually just being there was enough to cause me to fall into a coma of pure ecstasy. You simply don’t appreciate how big it is until you’re actually there. As I said in our recent podcast, the videos you’ll watch, the images you’ll see, just don’t do it justice. There is no way for me to convey what E3 is to someone who hasn’t been.
So what have I been doing other than weeping tears of pure joy and awesome? Well, there has been a truck load of meetings and appointments. Much like my day to day life, there has been little game playing and tons of writing. Achieving that balance in my normal lifestyle is something of a challenge, here, it’s nigh on impossible. Sure, we get access to some stuff quick time, but plenty of people have to queue and some of these queues are hours long. I’m working on the basis that some sort of higher power could crush me at any moment and remove the possibility of me returning next year. Maybe that higher power is Odin. Maybe he’ll crush me with his tits. I digress. Regardless of my religious concerns, I thought that it would be interesting for everyone to understand just what a day at E3 is like. We’ll take Wednesday as it was easily the busiest and, therefore, the most chaotic. The following events take place between 06:00 and 00:00.
Wednesday June 6th, 2012. Los Angeles, California.
06:00 – At the house
I’m awake. Marvelous. Sleep is overrated anyway. You wake up feeling refreshed and excellent. I prefer the microwaved corpse look, either way. Head into the War Room and fire up the laptop to try and remember what I was typing six hours ago. Mark is already awake. He tells me he’s been to sleep but he’s probably been sleep-editing again. Terrible condition. I’ve heard the only cure is a swift kick to the crotch and this guy is from Paisley, so fuck that. Starting to type the last of whatever was there last night.
08:30 – At the house.
First podcast needs to be done. Going to do one after each day at the show, which gives us more to talk about, as everyone would have witnessed the conferences. Everyone’s waking up and trying to scavenge stuff for breakfast. Mark’s still not worked out how to toast bread despite me explaining it to him. He says he likes burnt toast. I think he is either mad or lying. I’m eating cookies because I can’t be fucked to get up to the toaster. I’ve drank nearly three litres of Sunny D in the last twenty four hours and I’m starting to wonder if my stomach is eroding. Americans don’t seem to understand the concept of orange squash. Heretics.
10:00 – In the car.
Back in the house on wheels. This bastard could make a hippo think twice about crossing the road. Mind you, crossing the road seems to be an occupational hazard of general existence in America. It sounds bad that vehicles always have the right of way, but I like to think of it as natural selection doing us a massive favour. If you can’t cross a road without getting hit by a car, in a place where you know they have right of way, then you need putting down anyway. Regardless, we’re heading to E3 and I’m still typing up yesterday’s articles on the way.
10:30 – At E3 – First Meeting
I make it into the building with about ten minutes to spare and head to my first meeting. It’s with the Wargaming.net guys to see World Of Warplanes, the follow up to World of Tanks – a hugely successful free to play MMO. Having played the latter at Eurogamer I was really looking forward to giving this a go. The important thing about meetings is that it’s never really clear what is going to happen; it could be a formal sit-down with some developers, it could be an informal tour of the game, hands off or hands on. We get briefed beforehand but, in my experience, it tends to adjust on the day, based on what is going on.
This particular interview turned out to be a private look at the game with the Brand Manager, two developers and a PR gentlemen. That’s a fair amount of people for one writer. The game itself was awesome and there was plenty of whooping and cheering when I shot down my first plane, shortly before colliding with the debris and crashing into a nearby lake. I quizzed them a little on the various features and their plans generally. Thank god for dictaphones because these guys loved to talk; any budding journalist worth their salt needs to get one of them.
11:15 – At E3 Press Center
The idea that spare time exists in the black hole that is known as E3 is bloody laughable. My next appointment wasn’t for an hour and fifteen minutes so, generally speaking, I’ve got two options: I can walk around the floor and see if I can queue for a game. That obviously runs the risk of queuing, running out of time and wasting that precious hour and a half. My second option is to head to the Press Center, get some breakfast that isn’t chocolate-chip based and do some work. Naturally, I head to the Press Center because it is day two and I’m still writing day one stuff. So begins the long journey back to the West side of the complex. My previous interview was in the bottom south side corner. The journey from one end to another takes about ten – fifteen minutes when confronted with thousands of people.
Upon arrival I find the guys who’ve returned from their respective interviews. It’s now about 11:30 so I sit down to work. After a quick chat, re-tweeting, sharing and commenting on the various articles in order to encourage extra readers and coverage, it’s 11:55. I write about three paragraphs, pack everything up and head to the next meeting, as its going to take me at least five minutes to get there. On my way out I notice lunch has been served and the vultures are circling. We’re lucky enough to get pre-packed cases, including, sandwiches, water, some fruit, crisps and chocolate. You cannot take these into Press Center to eat due to some genocidal dictator type, sticking some fascist sign up prohibiting eating and drinking, because we’re only five years old, after all.
Naturally I grabbed myself a lunch but then felt guilty the others were going to go hungry. Having run out of energy so early in the evening the day before, I’m convinced the lack of food is to blame. So I quickly ate as much as I could and grabbed another four lunches for everyone else to eat. Disaster struck when the fascist dictator actually appeared and refused to let me in. Total fucking jobsworth. I take the four lunches with me in one massive bag.
12:30 – At E3 – Second Meeting
I make my way to the next appointment, carrying enough lunch for a group of fully grown men. Going for the professional look. Ed and I are at a meeting with Konami, to look at the new Metal Gear and Pro Evolution Soccer. I ring Zero to come and collect the sandwiches, only to later discover I dragged him out of a hands-on with Dishonored. Cockwombles. If I was him, I would have told me to fuck off and deal with my own sandwiches. The meeting goes well, both games are excellent, but it’s going to be a busy afternoon, so I quickly leave to make my way to the next.
13:50 – At E3 – Third Meeting
The Konami meeting ended at 13:30, which gave me fifteen minutes to get to the Press Centre to drop off swag, grab some water and meet Mark and Pete to then make the trip to meet Neocore at 14:00. Luckily we’re a little early but the developers are ready, so we head on in. We are shown two games, one nearing completion and another in the opening stages. Both look excellent, the latter looking incredibly detailed and stunningly beautiful. The meeting concludes just before 15:00 and I need to go back to the Press Center to drop off more stuff and get some work done.
15:15 – At E3 – Microsoft Booth
I make it all of thirty feet from my last interview when I come across Deadlight. Its an XBLA title that I really wanted to see at the show. There is no queue for it and the developers are on hand. I get to have a quick go and speak to them for a little bit. It’s all very informal but I get enough information to write up a short preview. It’s a brilliant looking title and plays very smoothly. This random encounter gives me enough time to head back to the Press Center and then straight to the appointment. I bump into Zero on the way and, feeling guilty about costing him time with Dishonoured, I invite him to join me on the next meeting.
16:00 – At E3 – Fourth Meeting
Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 was a game I sunk over a hundred hours into, so when the opportunity came to preview the 2013 edition, I couldn’t turn the offer down. The Magic developers are very excited to see me and come across as very friendly. Zero isn’t the biggest Magic fan but admits he’s been intrigued by the concept. We get a look at the new features and I go hands-on with a demo. I’m relieved to say it doesn’t disappoint. Zero looks slightly confused, like myself and the developer have been discussing the finer points of quantum mechanics. Once I’m finished, I walk back to the Press Center to get some work done.
16:45 – At E3 – Press Center
I’m utterly shattered but I’ve made it back to the Press Center to do some work. I sit down and continue to write articles from yesterday. Everyone else arrives back and we pack up to head to the 17:30 appointment as it’s an open invitation. I need the loo before we go, so I tell Mark I’ll meet them at the meeting as it’s already 17:20. I come back out and head up to the Concourse Halls with a large throng of people. When I arrive at TopWare Interactive, everyone else is missing. I can’t have beaten them here? I give Zero a ring and find out they’re still standing outside the toilets. Appears we missed each other on the way out. It’s now 17:28 so they get a wiggle on and I talk with the PR chaps. Hilariously Mark had actually gone into the toilets and shouted: “Toffer, hurry your arse up!” The appointment goes excellently and it’s easily one of the best that day.
18:00 – At E3 – Leaving
The day is done; thank goodness because I’m starving and shattered. We all meet outside, including our American colleague, Adam, and head back to the house. It’s nearly 19:15 when we get back. We drop off the hundreds of bags, equipment and swag and then leave for dinner.
19:45 – Cheesecake Factory
Nom. Nom. Nom.
21:00 – The House
We get back and settle in after a well deserved meal. The conversations drop in and out, but people are trying to focus on work and it’s just not happening. It’s not through lack of trying, we’re just too fucking tired. Slowly we all drop off until about 23:30 when we all give in and go to bed.
That’s just one day at E3 and, despite the insane running around, the mountain of work, the sleep deprivation and bouts of hunger, I’d do this all over again in a heartbeat.
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