Xbox, Beer Me
One of our Gameological Questionnaire interviews from E3 was with David Bowman, a developer at Crytek who was showing off a virtual reality tech demo that gives a feel for the studio’s upcoming VR dinosaur game, Robinson: The Journey. Down in the comments, doctaur brought up what is likely VR gaming’s biggest fault:
If I have to take a device off to swig beer, stuff pizza in my face, or check my phone, I honestly can’t see how I could play video games with it.
But Venerable Monk imagined our terrifying future where that won’t be a problem at all:
Careful what you ask for.
“With the new Hololens paired to an Xbox One, the transitions are seamless! Simply say ‘Xbox, phone’ and a fully-interactive, picture-in-picture view of your phone* shows up in your virtual hand! Now you can check your email during loading screens without even reaching into your pocket! And that’s not all! Say ‘Xbox, beverage” and a small straw will extend from the side of the VR headset to your mouth and deploy one of up to three distinct beverages**! No need to grope around for that glass when you’re gaming! Say ‘Xbox, pizza’ and the Hololens Multipurpose Claw (HMC)*** will extend to the nearest slice of ‘za, grab it, and gently guide it to your mouth using our patented Triangle Recognition Technology (TRT)****!”
*Only Windows phones with the Hololens plugin installed and paired to your Xbox One are currently supported.
**beverages must be pre-loaded into the three beverage receptacles that come packaged with the Hololens. Carbonated beverages are not currently supported. (Coming soon!)
***HMC sold separately. User must be able to lift 20 lbs with neck for proper use.
****TRT will not recognize pizza cut into squares, pending software update (2017-ish).
Everybody Calm Down
This week, Ryan Smith and I thought it might be fun to report back with the actual stories behind some of our weirder E3 demo sessions, as opposed to just talking about the games themselves. The comments quickly turned to what became one of the show’s hot button issues: Nintendo’s E3 offerings. While some of us might have been happy with Star Fox and Muppets, certain people were losing their damn minds over what they deemed a disastrous show, especially with the announcement of Metroid Prime: Federation Force, a 4-player 3DS spin-off of the acclaimed series. Wolfman Jew took a more pragmatic look back at Nintendo’s E3:
I get the sense that there’s a lot of inertia to anything Metroid inside Nintendo. It’s Yoshio Sakamoto’s thing, and he wrecked all his goodwill with Other M. Also, he seems to have no interest in the Prime games, seeing as how Other M implicitly took them out of the Metroid canon. Since shooters aren’t popular in Japan, it’s basically something they have to make with external developers, which is a process Nintendo has been getting better at but still needs work in.
Kensuke Tanabe, who was the producer on all the Prime games and now Federation Force, seems to be viewing this as a way to slowly work back from how badly Other M was received—but without recognizing that fans really want something big and good and with Samus at the helm. It’s too bad, since Next Level Games, Federation Force’s developer, made Punch-Out!! for the Wii and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, both solid games.
But while Nintendo’s show was bad overall this year, it did have some good stuff; it was just that all of it was stuff we’ve already seen (Mario Maker), stuff we already knew about (Star Fox Zero), and stuff that technically has existed for 20 years (EarthBound Beginnings). None of what was new was particularly exciting. Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, which is a crossover between Nintendo’s two Mario RPGs, would be a lot more appetizing if both series’ last two installments (both of which Paper Jam seems to pull from) weren’t their creative nadir.
And Unexpected Dave defended Nintendo against claims that the company is out of touch:
I sometimes think we’re misjudging Nintendo when we accuse them of being “out of touch.” They must be aware of what fans want, on both sides of the Pacific, but they don’t always have the resources to bring those desires to market. For example, they wanted an F-Zero game for the Wii U’s launch but couldn’t find a suitable third-party developer. [Editor’s note: This is in relation to a story that broke this week about Criterion Games, the studio behind the Burnout series, turning down Nintendo when offered F-Zero in 2011.]
Contrary to how it sometimes seems, Nintendo are not a completely risk-averse company. They develop and publish oddball titles all the time. Their main problem is that they simply don’t have enough people to develop and/or localize as many games as people say they want. Even if they did, sales history shows that there’s not a direct correlation between fan demand and copies sold. It sucks, but Nintendo has watched too many of its competitors die quickly and spectacularly through over-aggressive publishing.
Getting back to the issue of memorable E3 demos, Ryan recalled his time with Call Of Duty: Black Ops III’s multiplayer and how his team of scrubs was pitted against a COD master that wiped the floors with them. It’s not exactly the best experience for a demo, but D. pointed out that at least it’s accurate:
I thought the whole point of Call Of Duty multiplayer was to have that exact experience? The one where you join as a relative newbie, and some guy who plays the game like it’s his second job (or where it actually is his first job) basically just keeps you in the respawn queue for the entire round.
Kiwi And Salami
In a different Questionnaire interview, Francesco Antolini, the delightful lead designer of Just Cause 3, namedropped a curious flavor combination that’s already become something of an earnest Gameological meme: kiwi and salami. As of now, I think DL is the only reader who’s weighed in:
My wife and I just tried it. First I tried wrapping kiwi slices in the slices of salami, and it was very good. But I also liked it if I took alternating bites of each, getting the salt and fat from one followed by sweetness and acid of the other. It’s a lovely summer snack!
I’ve yet to try it myself, but maybe some other adventurous commenters can deliver their takes?
I hope you enjoyed our E3 coverage! Thanks for reading and commenting, everyone. Things will be getting back to normal next week. A certain surly superhero has a new game out, and I think it’s about time we talk about it. We’ll see you then!