Gameological At E3

E3's Greatest Mysteries

E3’s Greatest Mysteries

The world’s largest gaming expo is not only a place for news—it’s also a hotbed of unexplained phenomena.

By Scott Jones • June 4, 2012

Each spring, the Electronic Entertainment Expo—known colloquially as E3—appears like a mirage amid the sun-baked parking lots of downtown Los Angeles. For three surreal, press-conference-filled days (and open-bar-filled nights), video game purveyors from around the world gather together to puff their chests, play techno music from very large speakers, and generally attempt to elbow one another out of the way via announcements/pronouncements, “news,” and absurdist boasts.

What happens at E3 does not adhere to the logic or, more importantly, to the ethical standards of the outside world. And why should it? No one holds anyone accountable for anything at E3. Attending the show is akin to watching a pair of monocle-sporting zillionaires engage in a game of one-upmanship. So you’re giving away T-shirts? We’re giving away USB-drive keychains. You have Tiger Woods at your press conference? We have The Beatles at our press conference. You’re picking up journalists in Humvees and doing your demos in the backseat? We’re picking them up in Apache helicopters and doing our demos at 8,000 feet while feeding them gourmet hamburgers.

Then, after 72 hours of this dizzying sturm und drang, like a bar at closing time, the lights come up, the industry collectively rubs its bloodshot eyes, and everyone does their best to separate the reality from the B.S. E3 exists because it’s supposed to give us answers; it purports to be the bellwether for the medium. But the reality is that E3 always leaves us with more questions than answers. Those questions, if they linger long enough, can evolve into bona fide mysteries. Things happen in Los Angeles during E3—preposterous things, unnerving things—that can’t easily be explained. What follows are some of E3’s Greatest Mysteries.

Milo

At Microsoft’s 2009 E3 press conference, veteran game designer Peter Molyneux introduced the audience to Milo, a towheaded boy who lives inside a TV screen. Molyneux, the P. T. Barnum of video games, cued a short film—which should have been the first clue that we were about to be duped—showing the virtual boy interacting with a real woman. The woman and the virtual boy appeared to be having an actual conversation. The boy seemed to hear her; she seemed to hear him. Then came the coup de grace: the woman drew something on a piece of actual paper, and somehow fed it into the top of the TV where Milo received the paper in his virtual world.

Audience members gasped. People walked out of the press conference on unsteady legs, unsure of what to make of the technological wizardry they’d just witnessed. Later that same day, a handful of journalists got the chance to speak to Milo firsthand. Those journalists in attendance reportedly failed to experience anything approximating the degree of interaction that the woman had experienced in Molyneux’s press-conference video.

“There’s something fishy going on with Milo,” one writer said. A second journalist described the Milo press demo as having a “Wizard Of Oz quality,” referring to a conspicuous curtain at the Milo demonstration, behind which no doubt plenty of disappointing non-wizardry was transpiring. Even so, Milo was all anyone could talk about, or write about, for the remainder of E3 2009.

Then, as quickly as he had arrived, after becoming arguably the biggest E3 sensation of all time, Milo vanished.

Case Status: Open. While “Molyneux’s Milo” has yet to return to E3, he did make an appearance in Molyneux’s 2011 TED talk.

Nintendo’s Vitality Sensor

At Nintendo’s 2009 press conference, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, looking dapper, bounded onto the stage to announce the Vitality Sensor, a wedge of plastic that attaches to the Wii remote and covers the user’s index finger. The device, as many in attendance would cleverly observe, resembled a space-age marital aid. The Vitality Sensor supposedly would gauge a gamer’s pulse, and therefore could be used to “map the landscape of the body’s inner world,” Iwata said, adding that people could use the Vitality Sensor to “achieve greater relaxation.” He also conjectured that the device might even enable people to use video games “to fall asleep.”

Still riding high on the runaway success of Wii, the first game console in history that people’s parents purchased, Nintendo was in a brassy, told-you-so mode in 2009. The Vitality Sensor was a manifestation of this chutzpah. What makes the Vitality Sensor so intriguing is that it has—or perhaps had—the potential to be Nintendo’s greatest folly since 1995’s Virtual Boy.

Case Status: Still open. The Vitality Sensor was notably absent from Nintendo’s press conference in 2010, and again in 2011. Though Nintendo representatives have made passing references to the Vitality Sensor, no software, including any of those sleep-inducing games, or release date has ever been announced for the peripheral.

Kentia Hall
Kentia Hall

The South and West Halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center are historically where the industry’s biggest, suspenders-snapping players like Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo set up their multi-million-dollar booths. But there was once a third, off-the-beaten-path wing of the Convention Center that represented the hardscrabble side of the industry.

For many years, Kentia Hall was the epicenter for all manner of video game effluvia. This was where the collectors, the gaming preservationists, and the Willy Loman types would flaunt their “but wait, there’s more!” wares. You could find things like an exercise bicycle hooked up to a Super Nintendo, or a robot made out of a trash can and a Speak-N-Spell, or a plastic toy guitar that let gamers play along with covers of rock songs. (Yes, Guitar Hero was born out of the primordial ooze of Kentia Hall.)

After the endless darkness, neon, and “booth babes” of the South and West Halls, Kentia served as a kind of palette cleanser. Walking into the sobering, brightly lit Kentia from the simulated night of the South and West Halls was not unlike having a policeman shine a light in your face and ask if you’ve been drinking. Those bright lights made it feel as if Kentia’s humble denizens—unlike Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo—had absolutely nothing to hide. The booth attendees in Kentia sometimes wore clip-on ties on their necks and Brylcreem in their hair. And they actually shook your hand, thanking you in earnest for looking at, say, their weird fishing game. Finally, if you were hungry, Kentia was the place to go for reasonably priced hot dogs.

Case Status: Closed. Kentia Hall has not been used for E3 since 2009, instead fulfilling its true destiny: serving as a 415-car parking garage.

Activision’s 2007 press conference, hosted by Jamie Kennedy

With stains on his untucked shirt and looking for all the world like he just woke up underneath an overpass on the 101, entertainer Jamie Kennedy took the stage at Activision’s press conference in what can only be described as a compromised state. “How’s everybody doin’?” he asked. “Isn’t this exciting? We’re at E3, and I’d just like to say that this place is the only place that makes the guys at Comic-Con look like Ocean’s 13.” His first joke of the day was met with the one-two punch of uncomfortable laughter and awkward silence. Things would only deteriorate from there.

When introducing a developer from Neversoft, Kennedy said, “Wasn’t that the first name for Viagra?” More awkward silence. Another Kennedy bon mot: “There are so many virgins in here, Richard Branson is doing this event.”

The press conference’s lone bright spot occurred when Kennedy, noting the British accent of a developer, asked if it would be okay if he conducted the remainder of their interview as Ozzy Osborne. The developer quipped, “But aren’t you doing that already?” and was rewarded with a round of applause from the audience.

Case Status: Closed, with one minor postscript. In June of 2011, Kennedy, via Twitter, referenced his Activision press performance one final time. He wrote: “wow u dorks can’t let that go, You have no idea what really happened, because ur not in the biz, ur a spectator.”

The Phantom

At E3 2004, an elusive console known as The Phantom, which had been the subject of months of speculation in the industry, finally made its tangible debut—sort of. Unlike the PlayStation 2, the Xbox, or the GameCube, which required CD-ROM discs to play games (and which all reigned supreme at the time), The Phantom was described as a “video game receiver.” Translation: For $30 a month, players could have PC games beamed to The Phantom console via the internet. From a business standpoint, The Phantom was a precursor to present-day game-streaming services like OnLive and Gaikai.

The console was being manufactured by a company called Infinium Labs, a name which unfortunately sounded like something from a piece of Half Life fan fiction. Even when The Phantom was real, as it very much was at E3 2004—Infinium Labs erected a large, shadowy Phantom booth in the South Hall—it still couldn’t manage to shake the nagging, Candid Camera-style doubt that somebody, somewhere was having a good laugh at our expense.

Case Status: Closed. The Phantom vanished from the Infinium Labs website in 2006 and hasn’t been seen since. The term “The Phantom” is now commonly used as shorthand to describe any piece of hardware that likely won’t see the light of day. For example, the PC-centric console that Valve might or might not be developing is commonly referred to as a potential “Phantom.”

Haunted hotels
Hotel Figueroa

The Story: E3-goers looking to save a buck routinely subject themselves to Third World-level living conditions for the duration of their spring-time stays in Los Angles, as hotel options downtown tend to be overpriced and limited. It’s not uncommon to be bitten by bed bugs or to discover that your shower drain is clogged with cigarette butts. It’s also not uncommon to encounter an apparition or two.

The Hotel Figueroa, which is always popular among E3 attendees thanks to its proximity to the Convention Center, features an elevator that travels from floor to floor during the night of its own accord. The elevator’s doors open and close, with no one ever getting on or off. Televisions have also been known to turn themselves on and off at odd hours. The Ritz-Milner Hotel on South Flower Street is reportedly home to several ghosts. The clerk at the front desk, if you ask nicely and slip him $20, will sometimes tell you which floors of the hotel are haunted. Finally, the most haunted of all E3 hotels is without a doubt the Millennium Biltmore on 5th Street and Olive. It’s the last place where the Black Dahlia was seen alive back in January 1947. Other Biltmore apparitions include the ghost of a lost little girl and a man in a top hat who can only be seen in the reflection of one of the bar’s mirrors.

Case Status: Open. Anyone staying at the Millennium Biltmore can always take comfort in the fact that Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd once filmed key scenes for Ghostbusters there in the early 1980s.

The Last Guardian

Game designer Fumita Ueda’s body of work includes Ico and Shadow Of The Colossus, a pair of games that have single-handedly generated approximately 10 billion hours of nerd conversations. The Last Guardian, the latest artful enterprise from Ueda and his team, made its debut at Sony’s 2009 E3 press conference. The game’s four-minute trailer showed an oversized griffinesque creature and his boy companion. The two played together, solved puzzles together, and fought off weird-looking stone warriors together. The whole thing, which was cleverly set to the mournful theme music from Miller’s Crossing, made everyone in attendance 1. mist up a little and 2. yearn to go home and scratch whatever pets they owned behind the ears. Ueda, we were certain, had done it again.

Which is why, when E3 2010 rolled around, fans cried out in despair when the Sony media event came and went with nary a mention of The Last Guardian. And when the game was again absent from Sony’s 2011 presser? Attendees shook their fists at the sky and threatened mutiny.

Case Status: Still open. So exactly where is The Last Guardian? Why has it been delayed for so long? Part of the answer likely has to do with the fact that Ueda has reportedly left Sony’s Japan Studio, although Sony was quick to point out that he will continue to serve as a “consultant” on the game.

The red-wigged scourge
Nyko Red Wigs

Strange gifts are routinely foisted upon convention goers at E3. Swag-minded attendees have even been known to bring a second empty suitcase to L.A. with them, to be used exclusively to haul home the goodies being given away on the show floor. Usually, these gifts will take the form of a sticker, a poster, or a glow-in-the-dark something or other. In some cases you may receive a lukewarm Pepsi. But in 2011, the third-party peripheral manufacturer Nyko baffled attendees by handing out free red shoulder-length wigs. To acquire a wig, one needed to endure a demo of Nyko’s Zoom peripheral. The Zoom is an attachment for the Kinect that supposedly makes the device usable in smaller rooms. (It does not work.)

Why neon red wigs? No one knows, really. But this explains why nearly every photograph from E3 2011 features grinning, sweaty men who appear to be in search of the try-outs for the next season of Untucked. Side note: At press time, a Nyko wig was selling on eBay for $39.99. It had zero bids.

Case Status: Closed.

StarCraft: Ghost

This action game was designed to give fans a look at the StarCraft universe from a more intimate perspective than the god’s-eye-view of StarCraft games typically allows. Ghost was originally announced in 2002, with a “firm” release date scheduled for late 2003.

That date proved to be as firm as warm Jell-O. In a sign that trouble was no doubt brewing behind the scenes, Blizzard decided to take the game away from Nihilistic Software—Ghost’s original developer—and give it to Swingin’ Ape Studios to finish. With Swingin’ Ape on board, he game was officially re-announced at E3 2005—the first “re-announcement” in E3 history—with a brand new release date slated for 2006.

And again the release date came and went. Blizzard has been quiet about the game ever since. Blizzard co-founder Frank Pearce said in 2008 that Ghost was never officially canceled. This gave fans hope that Blizzard will actually make a—brace yourself—re-re-announcement of Ghost at some point, and eventually still publish it.

Case Status: Closed. In 2006, Blizzard announced that the game was on “indefinite hold.” Despite the fact that a novel was published based on the fiction of the game—StarCraft Ghost: Nova by Keith R. A. DeCandido has a 3.5-star rating among Amazon users—the game is now generally considered vaporware.

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  • HobbesMkii

    Man, I gotta find a way to be the hack writer who writes video game tie-in novels. I’ll bet you do okay money-wise and you don’t even have to try too hard at your work. 

    Also, I don’t want to burst your bubble, but Milo has been shelved. At least, according to the links cited by Wikipedia.
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Milo

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

      You have to cite the quotation directly.  It’s 1 of the all-time best Molyneux downgrades.

      “‘What we’ve taken is a premise which is what Milo’s all about: empathy and emotion,’ says creative director Gary Carr. ‘We’ve got empathic stuff that’s called “Audio Empathy” which comes from Milo. That basically takes rhythms of the voice, and the horse can twitch his ears and nod his head.’http://www.theverge.com/gaming/2012/5/29/3049535/fable-the-journey-is-the-closest-well-ever-come-to-peter-molyneux

      You see?  THE PREMISE of Milo is in the new game, doubters!

      Addendum to Guitar Hero: more accurately, it came from ripping Konami off.  But everyone knows that.http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/2801/book_excerpt_inside_game_design_.phphttp://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/131210/book_excerpt_inside_game_design_.php?page=2

    • http://thewavefunctionjunction.blogspot.com/ trilobiter

      Some of them may very well be fine writers, with absolutely no motivation to try hard on what is essentially a quick buck.  Yay, capitalism!

      • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

        I know of at least one English professor who writes Star Trek novels when the bills pile up.

        Also, no one must ever read the Mass Effect novels. I read the first one because I figured, hey, the story was pretty decent in the game and it’s from the guy who made it, so it’s probably on the level of at least a middling Dragonlance book.

        It is not. It is, in actuality, complete and utter horseshit. Characters are cartoonish, the writing is cliched, and it’s unrelentingly bad from the get-go. I suppose writer guy is good at plotting and so on, but when it comes to putting one word after another (which is 95% of what writing actually is) then he falls very, very short. 

        I would recommend against buying the novels or even borrowing them from the library, just in case the publishers think books of this quality are useful for anything besides feeding to a pet bookworm. If your curiosity is too overwhelming, I would recommend just pirating it unless you’re happy with the idea of supporting sub-subpar fiction.

  • PugsMalone

    My little sister thought that Jamie Kennedy was the funniest man alive when she was in high school. I suspect that she had a drug problem that I didn’t know about.

    And if Peter Molyneux is the P. T. Barnum of gaming, does that make David Cage the Dan Brown of gaming?

    • HobbesMkii

      I liked him in Three Kings. If I ever met him, that’s what I’d tell him. That’s the only thing I’d say to him, in fact.

    • http://thewavefunctionjunction.blogspot.com/ trilobiter

      Who goes to a nerd con and makes fun of all the nerds?  Jaime Kennedy does, because he has no sense of self-awareness.

      • Effigy_Power

         He is an unbearable gas-bag of Dane-Cookian proportions. My brother went to a live-show in Boston once and the guy made one gay-joke after another, referring to hecklers as “pussies” and cut his program short by 10 minutes (the only positive note of the evening).
        When he appeared on an episode of “Reaper”, I was really hoping for the devil to assign him a better demon… maybe “Rampantor, the Horncocked” or something.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

        Oh man, that press conference video was so hilariously bad. It totally made my day.

      • MSUSteve

        Joy Mohr has done it before, but he’s actually funny and you can tell it’s good natured, not just the musings of a lazy drunk who stumbled into a paying gig.

  • Enkidum

    The vitality sensor is presumably just a single electrode that records galvanic skin response – essentially the same technology that is used in lie detectors. These’ll measure tiny fluctuations in the amount of sweat on your skin, which gives a fairly good measure of stress/excitement.

    It would be totally useless for the modern crop of games. But, especially if combined with things like recording your pulse, even the amount of air you’re breathing, and some clever software, it would, with a very high degree of accuracy, be able to tell how engaged you are with whatever it is you’re doing, and probably be able to differentiate being frustrated from being appropriately challenged. So you could imagine games that adjusted their challenge level to your current state, which might be far more nuanced than the standard 3 skill levels. Basically they could update what they throw at you every few minutes, to ensure that you were always in the right zone.

    Of course the first few games in this vein would invariably be crap, but you could imagine this technology being really useful. 

    I’m hoping The Last Guardian comes out at some point. Maybe Sony’s saving it for the PS4 or whatever it’s called?

    • ImANarc

      It sounds like something Peter Townshend came up with for his Lighthouse project.

      Actually, it sounds exactly like something Townshend came up with for his Lighthouse project.

      • Enkidum

        Huh, tried googling that but it came up empty (unless you mean the sequel to Tommy?). I would be very surprised if this kind of project isn’t currently being researched by every major games hardware company, as the technology is decades old and I’m sure people have written extensively on it before.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          http://www.wilddivine.com/

          This thing (these things) have been around for a while, though the high price point, Deepak Chopra involvement, and general New Agey bullshit rhetoric make the whole thing kind of reek of snake oil.

        • Enkidum

          @bakana42:disqus Oh man, that made me throw up in my mouth a little. “Wild Divine is a combination hardware device (the iom) that measures your body’s energy and coherence levels.” 

          Right….. translation: “it’s an electrode that measures how much you’re sweating”.

          I didn’t realize this was already being used to separate gullible people from their money. But the technology is real, and really used in cognitive psych for measuring all sorts of stuff. It’s just translating it into something that’s actually useful that will require a bit of work.

          I really fucking hate Deepak Chopra. 

        • Effigy_Power

           Get in line… his so called teachings have done a lot of harm, either in the form of false hope or by tempting people out of actual treatment.
          “18th century Quack” is too good a term for that … person.

        • Enkidum

          @Effigy_Power:disqus A good rule of thumb is that the importance of what someone is saying is inversely proportional to the number of times they use the word “quantum”. 

          Have I mentioned that I hate Chopra?

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          One of my uncles was a classmate of Deepak Chopra. He once asked Chopra, “How long are you going to continue doing this new-agey stuff?” Chopra’s reply, roughly translated, was “As long as it keeps making money.”

    • Orange_Wedge

      I really don’t want my console to know how excited or exerted I am while playing DOA: Beach Volleyball.

      • Enkidum

        Oh, well one of the other optional attachments is the penile girth measurer. The game must have all the information, you see!

        • Limeade Youth

          Ahh, the penile plethysmograph, or in the ladies’ case, the vaginal plethysmograph. 

          “Nothing says fun like having measuring/recording devices inserted inside you!” – Texas and Virginia state legislatures

        • Enkidum

          @LimeadeYouth:disqus I was trying to remember what it was called, but was too lazy to look it up.

        • caspiancomic

           There’s also a planned peripheral specifically intended to obscure how excited or exerted you are when playing Dead or Alive: Beach Volleyball. Working title: the Vitality Censor.

        • jellybeanpill

          Well, the guy giving the press conference did say it measured things that are usually invisibie.

      • STOP_RIGHT_THERE_CRIMINAL_SCUM

        I used to rub my wiener raw to that game back in the day (the day being 2003)

        I didn’t have the internet back then and I was a horny 13 year old, that game was a God send!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Johnson/501651 Kevin Johnson

      I once joked that The Last Guardian pretty much just stole the plot to The Rescuers Down Under to a bunch of gamers.

      That didn’t go over so well. Lesson: don’t talk shit about the Ico/Shadow of the Colossus makers.

      • Enkidum

        I still haven’t played through either, but I downloaded Ico and will probably get around to it soonish.

    • caspiancomic

      Ever since the Vitality Sensor was announced I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out what it would be used for, except maybe in conjunction with the Wii Fitness… Balance… whatever it’s called. I came up with a few ideas that I liked, but I don’t know. Maybe something like, a game that requires you to hold your breath when your character is underwater, and only when you start breathing again does your oxygen start to deplete. Or a horror game that takes the whole “sanity metre” concept out of the game and into the player: the more afraid the player is, the more sluggish the controls become, or the more spooky red veiny stuff creeps in from the edges of the screen, and the only way to regain your composure is… to regain your composure, for reals. Although this system could be easily cheesed by playing with all the lights on and a group of friends riffing on the game, but I figure horror game aficionados are in it for the scares anyway, and are likely to respect the process.

      • Enkidum

        Fitness games would actually be really good – you could have things like the pace of the workout depending completely on the current amount of calories you’re burning. The horror game thing might work too – one possibility would be saving the big scares (like the T-Rex in Tomb Raider that the article was talking about last week) for a time when you’re maximally not expecting it – or at least when it’s lulled you into a false sense of security.

  • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

    Ah, I used to love reading about Kentia Hall! It was always so much more interesting than the giant booths and stuff. E3 generally just bums me out anymore. I like to see the new hardware and stuff, but the whole videogame hype thing is really obnoxious at this point.

    • http://thewavefunctionjunction.blogspot.com/ trilobiter

       Sort of reminds me of what happened to San Diego Comic Con.  I remember going to it with my dad when I was a little kid, and it was basically a huge hall full of comic books, as it should be.  I went three times in recent years (the last time I was there was 2010), and of course it had morphed into the mass media maelstrom it is today.  The awesome stuff is still there, but the hypebeast has made the event its own.

      I’ve never been to E3, but my impression is that it’s been all about the hype almost from the get go.  Sad to hear that even the vestigial bits of goodness are gone now.

      • Effigy_Power

         Legends say that lest year there was a guy holding a comic-book at Comic Con, but I don’t know. I am pretty sure I found Sergio Aragones’ corpse behind a “Avengers” booth.

      • The_Misanthrope

         So maybe you should start up the San Diego Really We Have Comics Con (or SDRWHCC for short) @trilobiter:disqus .  However, if that gets co-opted by Hollywood, then the nomenclature gets really difficult.

        • http://thewavefunctionjunction.blogspot.com/ trilobiter

           I’d probably have to live in San Diego more frequently than I do now to get that off the ground.

    • The Guilty Party

      Indeed; video games are actually much more enjoyable if you don’t know they’re out until they’re out. Then you say ‘Hey, look at this, I didn’t know this was out’ and you take it home and enjoy it on its own merits.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

    Now that most of the good, sub-behemoth Japanese developers are dead, I’m really only looking for negativity at E3.  Reading the NeoGAF Nintendo 2008 conference thread live made me laugh harder than almost anything else, ever.  Now that most of the .gifs are gone, I can’t really recapture it, but:

    summary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XR7LaJLLf8
    whole thing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOj9ZuvFn_w
    best part, especially the Super Mario Brothers 1 Ground performance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8IP7xLrg6E

    The Wii Music sequel Miyamoto tried to throw in our faces is still legend.

    I can only hope to recapture that negativity this year.  Otherwise, I’m just hoping for some good Western strategy games and for Intelligent Systems’ latest Fire Emblem and Paper Mario games to get here.  AlphaDream is due for a new game, too.  Some ex-Lovedelic stuff’s a dream, but a nice one.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      God call on Intelligent Systems and Alpha Dream. They make some fantastic games, and I rarely see them brought up. I’m really hoping for a 3DS redesign + price drop (not gonna happen, I know). I need more Mario RPGs. 

      I’m really only interested in Nintendo hardware and whatever Valve is up to. I’m not really expecting any big announcements for stuff that I’d be interested in though.

    • Destroy Him My Robots

      I’m fully prepared to Amelie Gillette the crap out of this year’s E3, but last year’s was just so disappointing. Hating on bland shooter sequels? Been there, done that. Hating on the Kinect stuff they showed? Whatever, I’m not really in the business of shitting on stuff made for 4 year olds. Mr. Caffeine Man? What’s the point, he was a living, breathing GIF already. There comes a time, person who maybe cares a bit too much about games, when the hate ceases to sparkle, when the snark loses its lustre, when E3 becomes a prison, and all that is left is a man’s yearning for genuinely exciting announcements.

      Edit: Really liked the article, by the way, because it had ghost stories, which are the best stories. Fuck zombies.

      • Raging Bear

        Could I win you over with the story of a long-dead zombie, doomed to drift implacably towards the living, eternally seeking the brains left uneaten during his short and tragically shotgun-ended unlife?

        • Destroy Him My Robots

          “I was saying ‘boo-rains’.”

          Sorry. But yeah, that works for me. Maybe we can release him from his suffering by digging up his corpse and putting a proper suit on him. Burying him in half-rotten flannel was pretty stingy of his relatives.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Johnson/501651 Kevin Johnson

      This is partly why I’m so surprised that E3 constantly gets so much coverage, especially on Twitter – the convention is essentially just a over-hyped joke, even more so than most overblown media showcases. (Man, the “not” laser tag game interruption at the one E3 is my favorite fuckup, just cause of how awkward it was.)

      I mean, like, 60% of every announcement at E3 is mediocre at best and disappointing at worst.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

        For every shoulder tap surprise, there’s a sweaty guy doing his 1st public speaking.  Agreed.  The gameplay impressions tend to be as bad as those “lock reviewers in a room” reviews, too.  It’s really post-weeks 1 and 2 that have the best stuff.  Proper trailers and screenshots, real impressions, and responses to early questions all come in.

  • eggbuerto

    I’m not sure if Agent qualifies as a mystery yet, but I’d like to know
    if that’s still being made. I don’t think Rockstar has mentioned it once
    since they showed a logo on stage 3 or 4 years ago.

  • Effigy_Power

    On the off-chance of insulting anyone from LA (which for me, as a savvy and sophisticated New Yorker doesn’t take much)… why are all your hotels so horrible?
    I’ve had the grand pleasure to stay in 4 hotels in the greater Los Angeles area and they were all godawful, even by NYC-standards, which are already pretty terrible.
    Every hotel I frequented was basically the “Independent Inn” from “Reno 911:Miami”, minus the suckfest. And they spanned a wide area of cost, so it’s not that… hath thou no cleaning supplies, LA?

    PS: Anyone who at this point (fine, maybe not 2009, but now at least) goes into a presentation by Pete Molyneux and expects the truth can rest assured that they are a bit naive. All you’ll get is news about stuff that runs in his head and some plug for impractical periphery. (Reality not included)…
    And judging by all the other games Blizzard has announced and then pushed back by a decade, Ghost might not just yet be vaporware. I am sure they might push out a crappy release when the WoW-numbers dip a bit at the end of the fiscal year, thus ruining yet another franchise with idiotic abandon. For which I am sure you’re going to have to be online at all times.

    • Destroy Him My Robots

      It’s been 15 years since Blizzard released anything that wasn’t a) a variation of or sequel to a game they released even before that, or b) WoW. I say it’s safe to throw Starcraft: Ghost on a pile with Warcraft Adventures.

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      Making an action game out of an RTS’s universe actually worked out pretty well for Command and Conquer: Renegade (although I’m pretty sure I’m one of its only defenders). A Starcraft action game would have been pretty interesting.

      And don’t be too harsh on Molyneux. Without him, we’d never have Molydeux!

      • Effigy_Power

         Oh, don’t get me wrong, I fell for it time and time again, pretty much ever since Populus (that was a Molyneux game, right?) or around that time.
        Especially when it comes to Fable, I am a sucker for sponging up ridiculous claims of features that would never make it.
        I am however aware of that, which I guess makes me not gullible, but gullible and stupid.

    • caspiancomic

       My friends and I are going to LA in a couple of weeks, so I’ll let you know if we end up staying in a total sinkhole. My buddy booked the location specifically because it was walking distance from a Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles.

      Oh, and I know what you mean about New York hotels setting the bar low. Last year the same group and I went to New York for about a week. We stayed at the Chelsea. We got the room cheap because Nancy Spungen’s corpse was still in it.

  • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

    “… Milo, a towheaded boy…”

    If there’s one thing that video games have taught me (Where in the USA is Carmen San Diego?, in this particular case), it’s that tow-headed means blond. Milo doesn’t look tow-headed in the pictures or videos…

    (Sorry to be a pedant and all. But this is something I learned from video games, so it’s relevant, right?)

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      If we’re being pedantic, isn’t it “palate cleanser?” (In the section about Kentia Hall)

    • Colonel Mustard

      I was thinking the exact same thing for the exact same reason.  Now, I’m off to speak to the docent.  I believe she saw Katherine “Boom-Boom” Drib in the area.

  • The_Misanthrope

    Molyneux, the “P.T. Barnum of gaming”?  I’m not sure that is an apt description.  I guess I don’t know the guy, but calling someone the “P.T. Barnum of…” anything generally assumes that the person is making grandiose claims in order to con someone out of their money.  My impression of Molyneux from interviews is that he is far more invested in the idea of what a particular game or game mechanic can be–the theory–than the whole practice end of things.  That said, it is a somewhat poisonous attitude to have when a shit-ton of big publisher money is riding on his grand ideas, so it’s probably good that he finally started his own studio to mess around with.

    Perhaps my comment was not sufficiently “additive”, but I can explain.  Why do I care so much?  Because, to put it the simplest, I believe in Peter Molyneux.  This doesn’t mean I’ve enjoyed all his games (I pretty much gave the Fable series a pass), but rather I believe he has the potential to create something great.  This is more or less the same reason I gave so readily to the Double Fine Kickstarter, despite the lack of any idea beyond “Um, so I want to make a graphic adventure game”:  because I believe in the mad genius of Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert.  So I guess it bothers me a bit to see journalists taking the piss of someone in the games industry with a big enough profile to make things happen who also doesn’t happen to be a corporate schill or a bland copycat.

    Then again, maybe Peter Molyneux can’t hear all the criticisms aimed at him  since he’s always swimming Scrooge-McDuck-style through all his money.

    • evanwaters

      Molyneux’s thing is he always sets grandiose goals and falls short, but the results can sometimes still be good.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000031028309 Peter Smith

      Well, Molyneux has admitted to inventing features in the middle of interviews. (Source: 
      http://gamingbolt.com/molyneux-i-lied-about-features-to-keep-journos-awake ) That doesn’t mean he isn’t a good game designer, but it does make him, in part, a bit of a playful conman.

      His participation in the Peter Molydeux game jam was pretty incredible, though.

    • caspiancomic

       If he had infinite time and resources, or was in some other way essentially able to deliver on his every promise, Peter Molyneux would probably be the greatest game designer on Earth. His biggest problem, really, is just that his reach exceeds his grasp. He’s so drunk on the potential of the medium that he never stops to think about what its limitations (at least its current day limitations) are. Teleport this guy two hundred years into the future when the technology is better and, assuming the world isn’t a smoking nuclear graveyard by then, he’ll probably start knocking out some amazing games.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

        That sounds like the plot of Peter Molyneux’s next game.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

        I’ll go even further, unfortunately.  1990s Molyneux might be that, but I see little evidence that 2000s Molyneux knows where he’s going.  He doesn’t have a realistic point of closure, so he just develops until it’s too late and the game has to be done.  Someone like Ueda, for all of his flaws, stops at gaming’s limits.  Molyneux just runs parallel along the great barrier until he gets dizzy and vomits.

      • The_Misanthrope

         I’m kind of considering the “22 experiments” to be his “put up or shut up” moment.  I want him to show us that he’s full of ideas, not just hot air.

  • JudgeReinhold

    Note to editors: The story now appearing above this one on the front page (a photographic look back at last year’s E3) is 404′d. 

  • Aymanut

    Not directly relating to the article, but I’m so excited to hear about Pikmin 3 I seriously can’t think of anything else.

  • The_Misanthrope

    Sonic Speedster, Abducted, Minigolf-Megaworld, and  Bikini Karate Babes?  With a launch line-up like that, I just can’t understand how the Phantom couldn’t succeed.

  • caspiancomic

    One thing I don’t understand about Milo: were they going to have some kid in there recording every conceivable combination of words in the english language, in every conceivable tone and intonation, at every conceivable volume? Or was the voice somehow computer generated? Because if that voice is generated artificially on-the-fly but Siri still sounds like a post-op Hal 9000, then that is the real technological miracle at play here.

    • jellybeanpill

      Why would anyone even want that that thing to exist? Not only is it Uncanny Valley-creepy, it pretty much serves the same function as Krieger’s Japanese hologram bride.

    • lylebot

       Did anyone actually buy anything about that demo at the time?  I wasn’t following E3 coverage then, but if any part of that technology was “real”, it would have already been published in academic journals, patented, written up in countless press releases, and been the subject of front-page news stories.  The fact that no one had ever seen anything like it should’ve been a huge tip-off.

  • http://www.facebook.com/smileyy90210 Andrew McCormick

    Are you sure Milo didn’t get murdered in Heavy Rain, and that Peter Molyneux has been battling amnesia and depression in trying to understand how and why?

    Or maybe he turned into a Fumpkin: http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/10/22

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

      It was all a red herring!

      Disclaimer: David Cage doesn’t know what the term “red herring” means.

  • http://www.facebook.com/smileyy90210 Andrew McCormick

     Am I wrong in remembering a running Phantom that was later shown to be connected to a PS(2?), XBox, etc.?

  • ferrarimanf355

    At least Swingin’ Ape reformed as Specular Interactive and released H2Overdrive.

    • http://twitter.com/jleehenderson Jeremy Henderson

      Specular Interactive sounds like a gynecologist sim game.

      • ferrarimanf355

        lolz.

        You should try H2Overdrive. It’ll bring back good memories of Hydro Thunder and some.

  • Shain Eighmey

    Honestly, this is why I don’t get excited by things at E3. Too much showmanship, not enough reality even for an event about virtual things. 

  • STOP_RIGHT_THERE_CRIMINAL_SCUM

    man, so much stupid shit goes on at E3 every year, you have to love it 

    and all I really remember about Starcraft Ghost was the main character Nova’s tight ass crack (seriously, look at this thing http://media.photobucket.com/image/recent/fredsavage6/starcraft-ghost-nova-big.jpg )

    also who can forget it’s Ridge Racer! RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIDGE RACEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEER, remember that one?

  • MSUSteve

    I’d heard about the Jamie Kennedy hosting debacle, but had never actually seen it before today.  What an absolute embarrassment for all involved.  At least Mr. Caffeine was sober, ya know?