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E3 2013 – welcome to the next generation

It’s that time of year again.

I’m not even going to attempt to keep up with the torrent of information that’s going to be pouring out of Los Angeles, starting in the next few hours and going on for 3 insane days. Heck, even full-fledged websites struggle under that kind of workload and I’m just one blogger. (A rather magnificent one, it must be said, but still just one.)

So here’s my plan, dear readers. I’m going to watch all the press conferences today, or at least as many of them as I can stay up for. (Future Me – 2 and a half. That’s not bad!)

I’m going to take notes while the conferences are going on and try uploading them as soon as possible once they finish.

And then, once the deluge starts dying down, I’m going to sift through the haystack of gaming news and focus on the important ones. The game-breaking ones. If all else fails, the shiny ones.

That’s my plan. It probably won’t happen, at least not as organized as I just made it sound. I’ll miss stories, whether through inattention or simply Not-Giving-A-Damn (hello, this year’s Madden!). Heck, I’m typing this minutes before I dash off to find someplace with a connection reliable enough to let me stream the conferences in a resolution greater than Minecraft’s, so there’s a good chance this post might be delayed as well. (Future Me – damn, I’m good.)

And there will be many of those – whatever else is revealed at E3, we know we’re on the threshold of something amazing. Next-Gen – the phrase is bandied about so much that it’s lost all meaning. I’ve been using it myself for years now, and it’s yet to sink in that we’re finally here. It’s finally here. Marketing hyperbole aside, I don’t think there’s any doubt that what we see over the next few days could potentially have a huge impact on what we play and the way we play for the foreseeable future. I am so excited right now, and so should you be. This is a wonderful time to be a gamer, and I can’t wait to see what happens. Show me the future, E3. Next-Gen is now.

God, what wouldn’t I give to be in the Los Angeles Convention Center now.

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Microsoft will take the wraps off the next Xbox on May 21st

[Image courtesy Polygon, click to see original article]

Microsoft’s long-awaited reply to the PlayStation 4 will finally be unveiled in just under a month from now. Here’s the official announcement from Major Nelson:

On Tuesday May 21st, we’ll mark the beginning of a new generation of games, TV and entertainment. On that day, we’ll be holding a special press event on the Xbox campus and we invite you to join us via the live global stream that will be available on Xbox.com, Xbox LIVE and broadcast on Spike TV if you are in the US or Canada.

On that day, we’ll share our vision for Xbox, and give you a real taste of the future. Then, 19-days later at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, we’ll continue the conversation and showcase our full lineup of blockbuster games.

We are thrilled to pull back the curtain and reveal what we’ve been working on.

A New Generation Revealed
Xbox Campus, Redmond WA
Tuesday, May 21st @ 1p ET/10a PT/17:00 GMT

This is going to be very exciting indeed. Much like this amazing GIF, found on The Verge’s forums:

Now, be honest – if it did that, you’d forget all about that always-online thing.

FIFA 13 is better with Kinect, won’t take that kinda language from you any longer


…really? Wow. So Electronic Arts, in all their wisdom, have decided to add Kinect functionality to FIFA 13. You can substitute players through voice commands, change formations on the fly and other fantastic edge-of-the-seat stuff. But that’s not all, folks! If – as so often happens during a match of FIFA – you feel compelled at some point to inform the referee, the TV, Electronic Arts and every living thing in creation that they’re a bunch of cheating $#%@$#^ @!$#%!$@#% !$@%!@$#%!@$ (and foithermore) their #@$!@# isn’t worth a @#$%#$% your mom @#$!%!$@#% Lake Superior #!@~$#!%!#$%…the game will now hear you. They SAY you won’t get carded, but saucy language will affect the referee’s strictness towards your team for the duration of the match; as well as potentially having longer-term ramifications in the Career mode.

Yes, FIFA 13 is now introducing consequences for those who cuss a referee’s decision.

Which, at last count, was every football fan ever.

(I happen to know at least three people who’ve probably spontaneously combusted at the mere thought of this.)

THAT WAS NEVER A @#$%@#$%ING PENALTY, YOU – You have been signed out of the PlayStation Network. Please sign in again once you’ve washed your mouth out with soap.

How The Gunstringer came to be

Apart from being a rather popular game, 2011’s The Gunstringer is notable for being the product of possibly the greatest game-development story I’ve heard yet. Here’s an excerpt from Justin McElroy’s version of the tale:

“I’m going to go to the restroom,” said Microsoft’s Cherie Lutz, “but when I get back I really want to hear this new idea.”

“Oh yeah, it’s awesome, can’t wait.”

Twisted Pixel chief creative officer Josh Bear had responded with abounding confidence, if only to mask the truth. Because the fact of the matter, the fact that he and CEO Mike Wilford were all too aware of, as they sat in Redmond, WA Tex-Mex restaurant The Matador, was this: The idea wasn’t “awesome.” It was nonexistent.

What followed was a rather epic tale of balls-to-the-wall, fly-by-wire, skin-of-teeth, extremely-hyphenated badassery, and one you should read. In case you missed the earlier link, click here to read Justin McElroy’s article over on Joystiq.

http://www.joystiq.com/2011/09/26/the-three-terrifying-minutes-that-created-the-gunstringer/

That awkward moment when E3 makes you realize your life is a hollow shell

Curse you, Crusher. I'm starting lean towards Sheldon's point of view.

It wouldn’t be E3 without some over-the-top marketing showpiece that you recognize for what it is, but which you really, really want anyway. That right there, ladies and gents, is an actual life-size Warthog. The original Warthog, of course, became famous as the death-dealing go-kart of 2001’s Halo: Combat Evolved (although with substantially less Wil Wheaton).

In 2010, the year I attended E3, there was a Dead Rising chainsaw bike, a Gran Turismo 5 Ferrari, a Need for Speed Zonda and a TRON Lightcycle. (pics to prove it did happen!)

Surely, with all these drool-worthy vehicles just sitting around on the show floor, somebody must’ve considered pulling a heist of some kind. Large-scale vehicular larceny, anyone?

Read the rest of this entry

Behind the Scenes at Valve

I always found their bald-guy-logo rather disturbing

This is a bit of a departure from Friendly Fire’s usual fare, but I urge you to check out this blog post:

Valve: How I Got Here, What It’s Like, and What I’m Doing

It was written by Michael Abrash. I’m prepared to admit that that name didn’t mean anything to me when I started reading the article; and I’ll also admit that, when I was done, I was rather ashamed of myself.

Monsieur Abrash worked at id Software, where he and John Carmack double-handedly (technically, I suppose, that could be construed as quad-handage) programmed Quake. Then, Mike Harrington and Gabe Newell asked him on their way out of Microsoft if he wanted to be the third founder of this company they were putting together, tentatively titled ‘Valve’. He said ‘nah, not really’ and went back to walking on water or whatever he was doing; along the way, though, he managed to contribute to what would eventually become Half-Life. Eventually, he gave in to Valve’s persistent wooing and joined them sometime last year.This post talks about part of the journey that landed him at Valve, but mostly about Valve itself. It’s pretty fascinating to be given this peek behind the curtains of one of the biggest companies in the gaming industry.

Thanks for the opportunity, Mr. Abrash. I’d wish you all the best for your new career at Valve; but, based on the above paragraph, I don’t think you really need it.

PS : You had me at ‘Snow Crash’. Why, oh why haven’t more people read Neal Stephenson’s cyberpunk masterpiece?