Monday Sep 08, 2008
Friday, August 29th, 2008
So today is the first actual day of the convention, we got got up early and grabbed some grub on our way to the convention center. As I predicted, even hours before the doors officially opened, there was a sense of anxious energy on the streets surrounding the convention center as i adjusted my eyes to the dawn. I walked in the main entrance of the hall and headed up the elevator to the 4th floor. Walking into the registration area I saw a massive line of a few hundred people already sitting patiently awaiting the showroom doors to open in a few hours. Since I was lucky enough to be working the show I found one of the many ‘ENFORCERS’ on duty to help manage the event to escort me to the showroom where i could prepare for what I can only assume at this point will be the massive ‘Hard Days Night‘ scene that was about to explode through the doors.
The showroom itself was pretty massive, although only exhibitors were inside, so the spaciousness may have added to the perception of space. We did get a chance to run around a little bit to check out other peoples booths. We even swung by the Harmonix booth to see a couple folks starting their day off, not with Folgers or Eggos, but rather a little ‘Pinball Wizard’ on Rock Band 2. We were pretty impressed with their overall skill and asked if we could maybe jump up on stage later to represent our inner SEGA rockness — they were more than overjoyed at this idea, and the seed was planted.
So once we got our chance to kind of scour the layout a bit before the show opened, we headed back to our booth. Once there myself and my fellow SEGA folks got a few moments to collect ourselves preparing for the big first day madness. At this particular show we brought a couple cool games to demo and allow the fans to get their hands on. In addition to Sonic Chronicles, which I would be demoing, we had playable versions of Valkyria, Yakuza 2, Bleach: Dark Souls, and Dinosaur King. Since PAX is a huge consumer show, it essentially means that tickets are open to purchase to the public in advance of the show. This allows for a pretty good time as the fans get to actually see and play a lot of the stuff we have only read about on blogs, or that publishers have been keeping behind closed doors. I took a couple shots around the floor of some of thereally cool or creative booths, as well as some of the more highly anticipated games coming out in the next few months.
This was the shortest day the 3, starting at 2pm, so we were able to blaze through the hours on the floor with our games. Christopher Kaminski, the producer for Valkyria and MadWorld was a champ delivering what seemed like a nonstop barrage of interviews with various websites, bloggers, and other media folks who had made contact with him to talk about Valkyria. Just from the first day I could tell this game was going to be very popular amongst the fans by the amount of attention it was getting. Rightfully so, the game both plays and looks fantastic. When I got my first hands-on with it, being an RPG fan, I found it incredibly intuitive, which im sure made Chris’ job of demoing and discussing the game much easier in the long run.
At the end of the day we were all pretty tired, but there was a Meet and Greet event being held in the main exhibit hall where we all were for exhibitors to get together, have some food and drinks and hang out after the hall had closed for the day. We bolted over to where the food and drinks were, which was, conveniently, by the Rock Band 2 stage setup we had been loitering by earlier in the day. The three of us had be excited to get up on stage and rock, but now we had a CROWD! How could we pass this up? We divided up the duties, I was playing guitar, Mabel would rock the bass, and Chris would be fronting our little group. Of course, we were one short of a drummer, so I talked one of the Harmonix guys we had hung out with earlier into jamming with us. Our excitement was overheard and shared by one of the guys from SouthPeak. After a little friendly discussion we decided it would be fun to have a SEGA vs. SouthPeak battle of the bands. We had our crew assembled, and they put theirs together.
They took the stage first performing an amazing rendition of the Talking Heads’ ‘Psycho Killer’ that had me in stitches. The bar had been set high, but little did they know, we had the human equivelant of ‘God Mode’ on our team with our newly acquired drummer. We selected ‘Give it Away’ by the Chili Peppers thinking it was a good tune to get the audience on our side. Unfortunately, the guitar work on that song was a bit trickier than i had anticipated, but Mabel held it down, and Chris summoned the rockstar in him to evoke a good amount of cheers and whistles from the crowd. After we had finished, the TRUE ringer band went on stage (all the Harmonix guys) and made both us and SouthPeak feel ashamed for even attempting such a feat with their SPOT ON rendition of Cheap Trick’s ‘Hello There’. All in all it was good fun and a great way to wrap up the first day of festivities.
More on the rest soon: Pt. 3
Friday Sep 05, 2008
We’ve got a new video out today that gives some insight into the inner workings of Sonic Chronicles and BioWare. There’s plenty to see, including some nice shots of the developers in action, creating the game art and animations. Sit back and enjoy:
Thursday Sep 04, 2008
So this last week marked the 5th annual Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle, WA. A few weeks back I was asked to demo the new Sonic Chronicles game at the show and as I had never been to PAX previously and have been loving the game since I first got my hands on it, I jumped on the opportunity. Plus, what a better excuse to kind of give the inside scoop on what PAX is all about for those who weren’t able to be there themselves. So here is the blog of my journey north to one of the coolest gaming expos going on right now.
Thursday, myself and our motley SEGA crew headed down to the San Francisco airport to begin our journey. Lucky for us, Seattle is a mere hour and a half plane flight away, so we were able to touch down early enough in the day to explore the seemingly quiet city hours before the streets would be lined with thousands of gamers, publishers, developers, and just fans of all things awesome.
First thing that stood out to me about Seattle was how nice it was. Now, San Francisco has some really nice areas (as well as some dodgy ones), and I definitely believe it to be one of the greatest cities in the world, but Seattle was so CLEAN! I was amazed. The downtown area was spotless and tidy, everything in its place. The weather was also superb for this time of year. With all the horror stories of 360 days of rain in Washington, and San Francisco just beginning our traditional Indian Summer, the fact that we were greeted with perfect skies and t-shirt temperatures was mind boggling.
We had to go out and soak it up before the show kicked off and we would be banished to the recesses of the Seattle Convention Center for the next 72 hours. My buddy Chris had just been in Seattle recently and knew of a cool little spot down by the water where we could go get good, cheap grubs, so we dropped our stuff off at the hotel and made our way west to the Pike Place market.
Remember how I was raving about how clean the city was? Well, although I could almost promise you that the 5-second rule is indeed in effect here, Chris showed me this infamous (albeit sort of disgusting) landmark at the Pike Place Market — the Gum Wall! This wall is, well, as advertised — a huge wall of gum in an alleyway in the Pike Place Market. Patrons, workers, tourists, and locals alike have over the years have been leaving traces of themselves and their journeys along this wall with their pre-chewed saliva repositories. I wasn’t too worried though as Chris and I saw a unique ‘neighborhood watch’ sign in the window of one of the nearby stores letting us know that ‘Earnie’ was taking care of business. I took a couple shots with my phone to give you a little insight as to the magnificence of this huge confectionery masterpiece.
So after our dinner and mini tour of one of the more popular Seattle tourist traps, we head back to the hotel to get some sleep and prepare for our first day onslaught of the convention. Supposedly this event is supposed to have upwards of 30,000 attendees! Thats a great deal of people to fit into a few city blocks, but should yield some pretty interesting events as well as some fantastic people watching.
Stay tuned tomorrow for my journal from Day 1 at PAX
Friday Aug 29, 2008
Did anyone catch the latest episode of Gamespot.com’s “On the Spot”? Sega’s own Ken Balough was there to show more of Sonic’s first adventure in the RPG genre: Sonic Chronicles for the Nintendo DS. He brought his DS along to demonstrate some of the puzzle and combat elements of the game so you know a little bit more of what to expect when Sept. 30 rolls around. Ken also has a special announcement for all you Sonic fans out there that can’t wait to play this game. Watch the video to find out more…
Wednesday Aug 27, 2008
Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood is almost here! To whet your appetite for the upcoming DS release, BioWare and SEGA have cooked up some fun videos that you’ll see coming out every week, leading to the release! To get the jump on the new releases, you’ll want to head over to BioWare’s community website.
Personally, I’m quite excited to see everyone’s reaction to the game. I think we have a real winner, and I think when Sonic fans get their hands on it, they’ll feel the same way too. The videos coming out are great, they give everyone a chance to see what we’ve been saying all along and now you can see it in action to judge for yourself. I welcome everyone to continue this discussion on our forums and let us know what they are most excited about for the newest Sonic release!
Three videos have already been released, if you haven’t seen them, do check them out below:
Episode 1: A taste of things to come
Episode 2: A deeper look at the RPG elements of Sonic Chronicles
Episode 3: Take a look at the Combat in Sonic Chronicles!
There’s more on the way, so stay tuned to the blogs and as always, let us know what you think!
Friday Aug 01, 2008
Check out the latest trailer for Sonic Chronicles!
Thursday Jul 17, 2008
We have a special website update for Sonic fans craving new Sonic Chronicles info. Let’s see a show of hands… so as I suspected, that’s about everyone! The site, which I’ve already expressed my deep love and respect for, is rolling out all new information about our little blue friend and the world he explores.
What should you expect to see in the new update? At a glance you can meet some new characters, check out new locations, read about the elusive Chao, and hunt even more rings for an unlockable surprise!
The site is currently only open to the US, apologies to other countries, we’ll have these up shortly!
Monday Jun 23, 2008
Check out my new favorite SEGA website, the Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood full micro-site! I’m not exaggerating either, I really do think this is one of the better websites we’ve ever created. Why, you ask? Well, for starters it’s essentially the DS version of Sonic Chronicles only in website form, which is pretty darn cool. I really like the trend of building websites that give you actual insight into how the game is played, basically merging mini-games into the website!
By taking the stylus in hand, you can direct Sonic around the island, test out the loop de loop, and meet some of your friends. Each character you meet has new information about the game, as well as some cool screens or movies to see! As a special treat, rings are scattered about the website and offer some unique rewards for those who can guide Sonic and collect them all.
Thursday Jun 19, 2008
Normally we don’t cross post links from other blogs, but this struck me as a particularly interesting write up of Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood from the perspective of Mark Darrah, project lead. I’m a pretty big fan of BioWare, I mean, who isn’t? They make great games, and have always impressed me with their top quality releases. The Gamasutra interview takes this into account and asks some interesting questions about how BioWare is approaching this new title, how it is different for them form a development standpoint, and what it means to be a part of the project. Here’s a snippit:
The motto of BioWare is “The best story-based games.” Sonic has been ridiculed recently for both the way its story has been going, and overall as a series. How do you loop that back?
Mark Darrah: The interesting thing is that Sonic, when you start digging into the IP, is an immensely well-developed IP. There are comics, there are cartoons, and there is all this back-history that’s been laid out. So there was an amazing amount for us to draw upon, and refer to, and pay homage to as we made the story.
I mean, I think the big thing is, we’re making a storytelling game, while for most of the Sonic titles – Sonic Rush, for example – the story has to be injected between the levels, so it limits how they can tell story.
If this sounds good to you, then you should definitely head over to Gamasutra and read the full article!
Thursday May 29, 2008
I love my job at SEGA.
I had the chance to run through our Gamer’s Day presentations and got a first hand look at most of our release schedule in one concentrated dose. Normally, the Gamer’s Day is for Press and PR only, so this was quite a treat for me. I’m still very much a fan of Sega and the games we create; and having a chance to see our games demoed by their creators is always a thrill.
The rest of the gaming press has been writing on the day with their impressions of Gamer’s Day, as well as other companies that had showings last week. There’s a lot of good info out there on all of the titles shown, but I wanted to put together a quick rundown of some highlights for me. So of the day, here are some brief impressions of three games I saw:
The newest Sonic title is basically the game I’ve been waiting to play since I first saw high resolution shots of our favorite blue hedgehog. The graphics are simply amazing, Sonic has never looked better. The world is highly detailed, and the sense of speed has to be seen to be believed.
One of the few ‘wow’ moments for me was when the action swapped from 2D to 3D and Sonic was grinding a railing. From this vantage point, the next challenge was visible from afar and Sonic was racing towards it full speed. The draw distance was huge; you could really get a sense for how big the level was.
So far I’m amped to see how the game will come together; it looks like a good mix of great graphics, great controls, and great gameplay.
The one thing you don’t get a chance to see in the screens for Sonic Chronicles is how the environment looks in motion. This may seem like a simple thing, but it brings some life to the game that you just don’t see in static screenshots. Of the section we saw, there was noticeable depth to the area with billowing smoke from toxic pipes, surrounding lush green hills. Sonic Chronicles is looking like a lot of fun, and I’ll definitely be looking to play more with the build they had for the Gamer’s Day event.
Samba De Amigo
I actually own two original Samba controllers on the Dreamcast. Every now and again, we’ll break out the maraca boxes and make fools of ourselves to friends and family. I’m not terribly coordinated, but I love the game, and was thrilled to get a chance to actually play it at the Gamer’s Day.
So the big question is: how does Samba feel compared to the original? Pretty much the same! The Wii-motes are much lighter, that’s probably the only major difference I could tell right off. The play mechanics seemed identical, I was able to quickly jump in and start waving my arms like a Samba crazed maniac. It felt really good to play Samba again, and I’m looking forward to playing more of it in the office. This is big on my list to share with friends when it launches later this year.
So there you have it, those are my top picks from the day. I’m looking forward to seeing all our games come together, in addition to these three. If you haven’t already done so, please do check out the coverage across the major sites, there are a lot of good games coming out from SEGA and we had a great Gamer’s Day showing them to everyone.
If you haven’t seen all of the screenshots released for the day, do check out our Flikr page!
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