Sunday, August 13, 2006

Temenos Liberator

The culmination of about a month and a half of work, and nearly five months of working together as a group was the fight against one of the harder ‘boss’ characters of the game, the Proto-Ultima Weapon.

Players who unlocked their access to Al Tieu will have fought a tough battle against Ultima and Omega back to back on the airship, but this Ultima is about five times harder and requires many more people (at level 75) to kill than the small party of six capped at level 60 for the airship version of Ultima.

The Proto-Ultima fight was also a bit of a ‘scary’ thing. All of us having fought it on the airship to gain ‘access’ to the new areas knew how tough it was back then and knew we had a challenge in our hands. As we spend the weeks collecting the chips to fight him on Temenos Central’s 4th floor, we were constantly reminded of how powerful it is. Proto-Ultima has a series of moves that can do massive damage to everyone in range, including a devastating ‘Citadel Buster’ move that will kill whoever he has enmity on as well as anyone else nearby. To survive everyone must exit the room as Ultima counted down, and the person with enmity is killed. With everyone safely out of range, the damage of limited to a few deaths rather than the entire group dying.

We designated today as our 1st Proto-Ultima ‘run’. No one, including myself expected to succeed, as failure is not uncommon and we may yet fail. However, today was not going to be a day of failures. Ater a tough hour-long battle and many deaths, Proto-Ultima was vanquished and we all earned the title of Temenos Liberator. Three lucky members also got parts of the vanquished Ultima, a pre-requisite for obtaining the mage oriented Nashira set of armor.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

E3 is Dead

It’s official. E3 as we knew it is dead. Last Monday the Entertainment Software Association announced that the giant industry trade show held every May, preceded by multimillion dollar press conferences from the big 3 manufacturers, and best known to the general public as that ‘videogame thing’ in Los Angeles, has been cancelled.

Ultimately it came down to a cost vs. benefit equation. According to Next-Generation, many publishers simply did not see the benefit of spending millions of dollars in a trade show to compete with other major publishers spending an equally massive amount when they would make their own events get all the attention. “Once Nintendo, Microsoft, SCEA and EA had stepped out, E3 was history. It was multilateral disarmament,” explained’s Colin Campbell.

The Fans Loses

While Japan celebrates a hobbyist culture, with conventions held in and around Tokyo for hobbies of every stripe, North Americans have relegated hobbyist conventions to the realm of the nerds and Trekkies. The massive financial and PR success of Lucasfilm’s ‘Star Wars Celebration’ conventions have done little to change this attitude. Even as the Tokyo Game show is said to be under threat of cancellation, its genesis is rumoured to be an even more massive show combining Anime, and other subcultures into one massive hobbyist convention.

Contrasting E3’s death is the upcoming Leipzig Games Convention. Instead of a hand-me down trade show where the big three rehash their E3 announcement for the European public, Nintendo promises 5 new Nintendo Wii (pronounced We) games will be shown. Some Europeans have even gone as far as proclaiming that E3’s death is good for Europe.

But such conclusions may be a little early. North America is the world’s largest consumer of videogames dwarfing both Japan and Europe, albeit per capita, the Japanese are still the bigger consumers. The decisions and big announcements will still be made on this continent. But without a centralized trade-show and having no consumer based hobbyist show for the fans, the Europeans have a right to brag about their games convention, which is expected to draw over 150,000 attendees from the public compared to E3’s 60,000 trade attendees at its height.

In previous years, dedicated fans of the hobby got around the trade-only moniker of E3 by moving their way into the industry working retail or becoming ‘internet journalists’. In its demise there’s nothing quite as big to replace it. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will doubtless have lax policies for their fans, bloggers and net journalists to enter their own events and the new downsized E3, expected to hold 6,000 from the industry. But gamers who want something more centralized will no longer be afforded this opportunity.

When will North Americans get a public games convention of our own?