Here’s the quick version, in a word: OMFG!
I spent most of the day doing volunteer work, whoring myself out in order to earn my pass for the exhibition hall, followed by about an hour and a half in South Hall (one of the two main halls), and about 20 minutes in Kentia Hall (the stuff targeted at vendors and developers, not for mass consumption). I ramble on a bit about the volunteer work first, so skip down a bit if you just want to hear about the show.
The first thing I learned is that Gary Coleman is irritable. And very, very short. Though he didn’t deign to speak with me, I had to give his little entourage directions to the right line to get their passes.
The real celeberties I swooned over was when a couple of Square-Enix employees who came to me to figure out what line they needed to be in. No, I have no idea who exactly they were or what they do, but they were employees and they *weren’t* just the hired help to run the show. I kept my composure… barely. “It’s just that, no *human* has powers like you do,” Square-Enix.
I also learned today that when you have two lines, both of which are long enough to loop around the entire South Hall lobby (easily several hundred people in each line), and when sometimes the thing that determines which line you need to be in is whether your confirmation code starts with a number or a letter, people get confused. People get *really* confused. My job, for the first half of the day, was maintaining order in one of these said lines. I have my voice back now, mostly.
After that, I got to play a Johnny Mnemonic mini-game. They use Palm Pilots (actually, Visors) with an attachment to swipe attendee badges at various checkpoints–very convenient. The problem is that they have very little RAM, and after around 500 swipes they need to be taken to the central office, the card data needs to be offloaded, and then the memory cleared. They had enough visors to exactly cover the checkpoints, plus one extra. My job was to constantly run around the checkpoints, and when one of them got to around 3 or 400 swipes, swap in the spare, and take the full one back to the office to offload and wipe. Lather, rinse repeat.
Of course, since I got this “special” assignment, the volunteer manager couldn’t find me when she came around to let all the volunteers off of their shifts so they could go see the show (I was on patrol, yay!). I ended up being on the job for a couple extra hours, and didn’t make it to the show floor until just after 4pm.
Even at that, the day was totally worth it. Once inside the main hall, I just stumbled around in a daze. I’ve only ever seen extravagance that tops this in Las Vegas, and even at that, by less than you might think.
The Rockstar booth? More like small city block, and even still they didn’t have any place for regular attendees–just a large area filled with parked busses and RVs (yes, on the showroom floor), all enclosed in a cyclone fence as if to say, “Fuck off, we know we’re hot.” Occasionally they’d throw t-shirts over the fence. I did see a rather tough looking man try to scale the fence around back. An even tougher looking bouncer yanked him down, roughed him up a bit, and sent him on his way.
As much of a sleazebag male as I am, when I go to a videogame convention, I’m there for the videogames, so booth babes (while nice to look at) aren’t really my thing. But sometimes, well, it really is something special. All I have to say is this: “I win.”
I played a bit of Dragon Quest N, but couldn’t find my way out of the damn town. What I did find was an impressive display of stuffed Jellies.
I want to take these home almost as badly as I want to take that last foursome home…
I didn’t manage to pull down any swag today, except for a deck of cards. The company giving those out was called “IQ” and while I hardly remember the game they were showing off (not at all impressive), they used up most of their space to put up a large stage where they had a squad of girls singing and dancing every half hour or so… Classy.
Square-Enix didn’t have any playable FFXII stuff going, but they did have an interesting FF XI setup–every hour, they pick two parties of either 4 or 5 people randomly from the audience. They get to choose between a couple of pre-fab level 50 or so characters, and then choose what boss they want to fight from a big poster. Depending on how hard the boss is, they get a prize if they win–a t-shirt for the super dink boss, and the last two on the list were top-of-the-line motherboards and graphics cards. I *just* missed a party winning the video card today, apparently the organizers were really surprised they pulled it off.
I’m getting super-tired, so now for the super fast summaries.
Kingdom Hearts II looks like the first, only a little better. And the statue of Mickey with a key sword was fairly cool.
The next Castlevania game for the DS looks sweet.
Soul Caliber III features a chick with a hula-hoop of death. Possibly from space.
The Konami booth has *the* best carpet for sitting and resting (the entire show floor was carpeted).
They had a vintage video game system collection on display–very cool.
Those of us who had a chance to make it to the floor today got together just a bit ago to share the skinny on where to get the coolest shows and the best swag–between that, and the fact that I’ll be there the whole day, I expect tomorrow to be killer. In fact, when I stop to take a rest (I’m sure I’ll need to at some point), I will try to take advantage of some of the free wireless access points and post in the comments from the show. Yarr!