LOS ANGELES, Calif — While most attendees go to the Electronic Entertainment Expo, more commonly known as E3, for the big titles, some go for the independent titles from lesser known companies.
E3 is always held in Los Angeles Convention Center in LA. The expo had been closed off to the public, only allowing people from the industry and media to attend, until 2017. This was the second year the event opened tickets sales to the public, still only allowing 15,000 public passes to be sold.
The expo kicks off each year with press conferences from the large companies, such as Microsoft, Sony, Square Enix, Bethesda, Ubisoft and others, the weekend before the expo begins, but the attendees do not get the hands-on experience until later.
On June 12-14, nearly 70,000 people visited E3 and stood in line for hours in order to play 15-20 minutes of games not yet released to the public. The largest companies were housed in the South Hall. Walking into the hall, it was impossible to miss the large jungle scene created to celebrate Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the president’s desk commemorating The Division 2, an almost full size bus replica for the Fortnite tournament or the hundreds of people walking around in helmets that were given to anyone who played the demo version of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
Many of the lines for those games capped out as soon as the public entered the building and people waited as long as three hours or more.
In the back of the same hall, however, in small cubicles, behind the glitzy decorations and actors celebrating the games, were independent companies. Some were there to give out information on in game currencies, new televisions, gaming systems and some were independent game companies.
One of those companies provided a hands-on demo of its title 3 Minutes to Midnight, a 2-D point and click horror adventure in which the character is trapped in a camp and trying to solve mysteries. The game was created by Scarecrow Studios and is the first creation from the European company, according to representative Pavlina Kacerova.
The game was inspired by Friday the 13th movies and Monkey Island, according to Kacerova.
“This is our first game,” she said. “We’re totally new. We started in 2016 and that’s when we started working on this game. John was doing engineering and wanted to do something different. He loved Monkey Island and decided to just go for it. The concept now is totally different than the first one. It took a long time to get here, but we’re so proud.”
The game will be put on Kickstarter in September and once it is completed, it will be available on all gaming platforms.
Kacerova said this was their first time at E3, but they look forward to bringing more games to the event in the future.
A few rows down from the Scarecrow Studios booth was another exciting game demo for attendees, called Cybershoes. Players were seated in chairs, wearing virtual reality headsets and VR shoes. The shoes were placed over the player’s regular shoes and while swiveling around in the chairs, the player feels as though they are completely immersed in the game, running, walking and shooting creatures. At times, it was difficult to maneuver the shoes, but for the most part, it made the experience unforgettable.
VR seemed to be a common theme at E3 this year.
The West Hall was a 10-minute walk — longer if the hall was crowded — from the South Hall. It housed a few other large companies, such as Nintendo, Sony and IGN. Tucked away from the vast crowds surrounding the Smash Brothers game, were several other independent companies, including one company named iNK Stories.
iNK Stories had created a VR-based game called Fire Escape, which featured a player who, while standing on a fire escape outside his New York City apartment, tries to solve a murder in an apartment across from his building. Players were given an 18-minute demo, the total amount of time it takes to play the first episode in the game, in which they were fully immersed in the world of the game with the VR headset and the noise reducing headphones. There were moments when the game representative had to steady a person who moved too much and almost bumped into the table.
According to a representative with the company, the game was inspired by the Hitchcock film Rear Window, a 1954 movie in which a newspaper reporter is trapped at home with a broken leg, so he passes the time watching his neighbors, when he believes he has witnessed a murder and tries to solve the crime himself.
Other VR experiences in the hall included a vest that allowed the player to experience what it felt like to be in the game, a company that created advertisements for VR games and several others.
Some games, however, were completely off limits to anyone without an industry or media pass and an invitation from the company. One such game was Metro Exodus. The game was housed on the top floor of the convention center in private meeting rooms that were off limits to anyone with a gamer pass who, if they stepped off the escalator were immediately told to leave by security officers.
Those with media passes, and invitations, were ushered into a VIP lounge, where they were able to talk with representatives from other companies and game developers before being moved to yet another closed room that housed several screens with a copy of the game.
Once inside the room, they were told there would be no photography, streaming or videos allowed of the game play, but we were given an opportunity to play through as much of the game as possible.
“This is still in development,” a representative of Deep Silver told the attendees in the room before game play of Metro Exodus began. “There are many changes that will still be made to the game before it’s released to the public.”
On the final day, at nearly 5:30 p.m., 30 minutes before the end of the expo, only one person remained in line for The Walking Dead game, a highly anticipated four-player coop zombie game. Those who were walking by, preparing to leave the convention, were asked if they wanted to play. Even without a line, the wait was almost 25 minutes.
Once inside, gamers were given a chance to play the game on a team in order to complete missions and survive together. In the room were also game developers who answered questions and eventually sat down to play the game themselves.
After the demo was completed, it was time for E3 to end.
Another interesting, and sometimes exciting, part of E3 is the amount of free items given out by companies. One the first day of the convention, one company handed out large bags with Final Fantasy XIV on artwork on both sides. Other items included lanyards, pins, stickers, tote bags, cups and many others.
For a convention open to the public for only the second year in its entire history, the experience was smooth and exciting. Nearly 70,000 people attended the event, with only 15,000 of those being members of the public. In order to be a public attendee, one has to shell out $249 online or purchase at the door for a whopping $999. Those in the media and industry receive complimentary badges and were let in three hours earlier than those with gamer passes on the first two days.
Anyone planning to shell out so much money to attend the event should also consider the cost of food inside the center. There are food trucks that normally set up outside the back end of the center and a few stands in the front. If one chooses to eat inside the convention center, however, be prepared to spend a large amount on food, because a single hamburger will cost anywhere from $12.50-$16.
(For more photos of the event, visit www.maysville-online.com.)