Gamescom 2011 Diary – Day 3

2011-08-24 by . 1 comments

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The diary continues! While Gamescom 2011 is over now, we’ve still got 2 days of diary posts to get through. We had a late start on Saturday because I slept in to try to catch up on some sleep. We left the hotel around 12:30 to head to the Koelnmesse. The traffic jams were horrendous, and the parking areas that were open on Thursday and Friday had completely filled on Saturday. Signs directed us to drive to the Lanxess Arena’s parking garage, where we spent 10 minutes trying to drive around and actually find a parking spot.

While checking Twitter, I saw Gamescom had tweeted that they were closing the Koelnmesse because it had reached capacity, which I have later learned is around 62,000 people. They were only letting people in when others left. Ugh. We shortly debated going back to the hotel, but I’m stubborn, so I insisted that we give it a shot anyway. After finally finding parking, we walked to the Messe.

Waiting to get into the Koelnmesse on Saturday

13:30 The line was huge. We must have seen hundreds of people standing in line for the East gate. My mind was boggling. It was also incredibly hot, around 34C/93F, and probably hotter than that in the full sun. We wanted to get an idea of how insane the line was, so we kept walking until we arrived at the East gate entrance. It was there that we noticed a second line had formed going in the other direction from the East gate. It was probably a 10th of the length of the other one, so we scootched in there.

14:37 We barely missed getting in. They kept letting people in in small groups then holding off again. You could hear people cheer every time they decided to let more people inside. It was hot, crowded, and a bit nerve-wracking, as whenever another push to the doors started, people became antsy and aggressive. I was literally standing in the doorway now. A woman was separated from her husband or boyfriend or whomever she was there with. She was able to get through, but security closed off entrance while the man she was waiting for was still in the crowd. She looked to be on the verge of tears. Sometimes people would walk by inside and take a photo of the waiting crowd, then walk smugly on their way.

14:47 Finally! I’m glad we were at the very front of the crowd, so we could get out of the way quickly. After the long walk back to the the main halls, we headed to the NCSoft booth because I wanted to try to get my hands on the WildStar demo.

15:00 We’ve reached the NCSoft setup again, and I was going to line up to try out the WildStar demo again when I noticed that there were a bunch of Carbine staff hanging around, so I detoured to see if I could chat some of them up. I ended up doing an interview with Matt Mocarski, the Art Director for WildStar. I’m saving the interview for the full WildStar post, as this entry is very long already.

15:20 After finishing up with the interview, I decided to give the demo a go again, but because of the massive amount of people there, the computers were overheating a lot. I’ll be doing a full WildStar post in addition to the Guild Wars 2 post, so stay tuned for that, where I’ll go into more detail about my experience with it.

15:44 I had to stop playing. There was some kind of server issue, which I later learned was caused by their network card frying itself to death. They ended up shutting down a whole row of the demo stations. We decided to go see where The International was being held and get a few pictures. I’d tried searching their website, but I couldn’t find the actual hall number for where their setup was.

16:27 We finally found it. Now I know it may seem a bit weird that it took us nearly 45 minutes to actually locate, but the halls of the Koelnmesse are really big, and with the massive amount of people there that day, getting from point A to point B when you knew where you were going took a long time, let alone when you didn’t. We stopped and asked someone from Gamespot where DOTA 2 was located, but the hall he pointed us to turned out to be the wrong one. Eventually, we found it way in the back of Hall 7.

The International setup

A closeup of the playing area

You can see the contestants in the blue glassed-in area

The commentator's stand

The current match going on when we arrived was Scythe vs. Na`Vi. All the DOTA 2 matches are available for streaming on the official website there, so we didn’t bother taking too many pictures of the match itself, as they would ultimately turn out worse than what the stream could show.

16:50 After that, we began wandering around a little rather than trying to hit scheduled things, just so we could see a little more of the con. Konami had a pretty awesome Metal Gear timeline on their wall.

"25 Years of Metal Gear. The story continues..."

17:01 Time for a late lunch/early dinner. We hit up the con restaurant again, and I had a frikadelle sandwich, which was basically just this hunk of ground meat stuff, and a curry bratwurst. So artery-clogging, but so delicious. It felt really good to sit down and take a break. I was really starting to feel the fact that I hadn’t had more than 4-5 hours of solid sleep a night since Wednesday. Eventually, I managed to peel myself off the chair, so I could go searching for more cool stuff and also give out more Gaming.SE stickers.

17:42 I finally got to Hall 8, where Nintendo, Sega, and WB had their setups. I knew if there would be anywhere that I could give out stickers of pixelated hearts, it would be here.  We walked into the Nintendo area while they were in the middle of holding a sort of Jeopardy-style quiz show covering Legend of Zelda trivia.

Zelda quiz!

The quiz contestants

18:00 We found the jobs and career area aka the Gamescom campus. Here, you could ask read information about getting into the gaming industry, how to prepare your education for doing so, and even talk to people who worked in the industry to get advice. There was also this really cool arch that dropped water droplets to form words which were lit from lights in the top of the arch. I really wish we would have had a way to make a video, but hopefully you’ll get an idea from this picture.

The water droplets falling and forming "I am" in German

18:20 Oooh, the motherlode. We found the case modding competition. There were some amazing mods here, ranging from a MineCraft case to Wall-E to Celtic designs and more. A picture’s worth a thousand words, so here, have 31,000 words! We don’t have every single case in the competition here, because some of the pictures didn’t come out, but here are some of the best ones we saw.

Keeping it simple

That sure is a nice case you have there... sssSSSSsssss

I thought the wood paneling was really nice on this one

Full gallery of Casemod photographs.

18:30 The Retro Gaming area they had was great. Cases upon cases of old handhelds, consoles, computers, and games. They also had setups where you could play various games by the displays, from Bubble Bobble to Super Mario Bros. to old Atari games I didn’t even recognize. In the middle, there were beanbags that you could plop down on, and play some of your favorite games/consoles that way as well. It took a lot of willpower not to sit down in front of MarioKart 64, but I managed! Check out the gallery to see more of the Retro Gaming area.

A whole 128K! Oh man, I need to upgrade

I had this one as a kid

The paddles here moved superfast

Full gallery of Retro gaming photographs.

18:32 I managed to give away all the Gaming stickers that SE provided me as well as a few more t-shirts. I’d like to profusely thank Jin, SE’s site designer, for our logo and the badge design. I had so many people initially wave their hand at me to decline taking something, as there’s always tons of people handing out stuff at these things, but as soon as they looked at what I was holding, they changed their mind. It’s like you could see a little lightbulb go on that said “Ooooh 8-bit art!” and suddenly their interest was piqued. Jin, you are awesome!

18:45 Having finished up in Hall 8, I decided to go check out the line for the PlayStation Vita. It was getting late, so I hoped that it would be more manageable than yesterday. Luckily, I was right and the wait was only around 15 minutes or so, though it felt much longer given how tired we were. While we waited, there was some sort of crazy breakdancing contest going on which was displayed on the large screens around the hall. I’ve cut the PS Vita full review out of this post to put in a separate entry, so make sure you check that one out for a full rundown!

19:22 After the PSVita demo was over, I again decided to see if I could take advantage of the late hour lines and queued up for the Anno 2070 demo. The line was much shorter than it had been the day before, so I was really looking forward to playing it.

19:30 I walk up to the keyboard to try out the demo and… it’s only available in German. Argh. Luckily, it was in noob mode for the demo, so it was still telling you how to build houses/streets/etc. and putting arrows and pings everywhere on the map for you to follow. Jochem helped me to translate some of it a little, and between that and the fact that I’ve played a lot of Anno 1404, I was able to get by. The visuals, like its predecessor, are stunningly detailed. The new sleek style to the modern techy buildings is really beautiful in the engine, and the water looks even better. It’s kind of hard to tell in the photos, but just trust me on that.

Anno 2070 gameplay screen

My new settlement

I can’t really comment on the tone or style of the mission text at all because it was all in German, but it seems to follow the same type of guided mission structure that 1404 had with various characters chiming up to make requests of you. I had to build a very small settlement, then build a small production chain in order to create… I don’t remember what the German name was, but it looked like a bit like the 1404 picture for coal, so I assume it was that. After building up my chain and getting enough people settled in my town, I was able to produce whatever-it-was that was needed for my mission. In addition, I’d had to ship a few things from point A to point B. After I’d met my goals, a cutscene ensued which showed the water turbine that I’d provided resources for apparently exploding. Oops.

That's German for "Oh snap!"

All in all, it was a decent demo, fairly short and easy, especially if you’re experienced with the Anno series already. Even though it was in German, I had a pretty decent idea of what I needed to do. I didn’t get to do any of the underwater city building they’ve hinted at, but I enjoyed it regardless. Though I can’t say how the different factions will interplay with each other yet, as the demo didn’t go that far into the game, it seemed pretty “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” which I think is perfectly fine given how much I enjoyed Anno 1404. Though who knows, given how easy the demo was, the rest of the game could be awful, but I doubt it. I’m looking forward to this game.

19:55 After I was done, we started heading back to the car because we were both pretty dead on our feet at that point. We swung by the ArenaNet booth again on the way and I was able to get a picture with a bunch of the staff as well as sign Braden’s shirt. The Anet people said they wanted not only to give out autographs, but also to get autographs from their fans. The approachability and awesomeness of ArenaNet gave us a bit more energy at least, and we were able to make it back to the car.

21:10 Back at the hotel. We didn’t even go out anywhere for dinner, we were so tired. I started working on the Short Saturday Summary post, so there would at least be something to put on the site, chatted a bit on The Bridge, then crashed somewhere around 1am or so. Another day down, and only one more to go.

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  • Chris says:

    I’ll be heading to Eurogamer in London on 22nd-25th September to check out what we missed (as we only went to Gamescom for a day). The biggest thing for me is that it’ll have CS:GO there. Shiny new Counter Strike, shiny. As I live very near to London I’ll be able to go each day for a major game too. I’m excited.

    I can’t wait to hear what you got up to on your final day – it looks like next year at Gamescom we’ll be going for more than just one day. They keep making it bigger and bigger…

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