I returned to Michigan for the first time since the 1970’s this week. Michigan is sleeping outside on screened porches during hot summers and Vernor’s Ginger Ale from my grandparent’s basement. I love plenty of places, but I’m sure Michigan is special. I was wandering a rental car parking lot helplessly, and a shuttle driver stopped a gigantic bus, rolled down a window and offered to help me. He wouldn’t rest until I found G17.
I was leaving the parking lot, and the gate guard asked if he could help give me directions to guide me on my way. Smiles were offered freely everywhere. Unfortunately, I’m much more used to places where people wouldn’t slow down a bus to throw trash on me.
Not in Michigan.
I visited The Motown Museum and Hitsville Studio A, which was a transforming experience. I’m not overstating the effect — to think that so much music came straight from this unassuming fortress of groove was impossible to comprehend. It was inspiring in a way that too few things are these days. The control room is the size of a closet, yet nothing could contain it.
Since 1995 I’ve missed one E3. The one in Atlanta, GA. I wanted to go, but couldn’t get away long enough to attend.
This year it has finally become clear to me that my E3 experience is like Groundhog Day. Same booths. It seems like they are actually using the very same booth constructions, and since these are extremely expensive, and our economy is a soft floppy fish, it’s probably true that we are seeing the same walls and panels year after year. You certainly can’t blame anyone.
We can always count on the crowds, but it’s a different mix these days. We see the same licenses. We see the same play formats. A new controller with all the same games. I don’t mean to sound too cranky, but it has all the feeling of a Groundhog experience.
This year everyone is waving wands or trying to dance like Michael Jackson or sing like they are on Glee. I hope the Wal-Mart product buyers really can start to move like the King of Pop, and without knee replacement surgery.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for new controllers AND for getting active with games — but it seems like no one is really pushing the controllers to do new stuff. They are just grafting motion controllers onto the same old games. The only one that got me really smiling was Double Fine’s Once Upon a Monster.
It was a platter of interesting choices all the way around. Nintendo has a new console! But is everyone too broke to really care much? A quote today in the LA Times mentioned that Nintendo could not understand why their stock continues to fall.
Sony showed their new portable — the Vita — for life, and it comes ready and waiting for an AT&T subscription package.
That’s what we all want, another carrier bill to sap our Vita.
You can actually have a conversation on the show floor now, because they re-wrote the booth sound rules. It used to be like a rave, if I was cool enough to know what a rave is like.
Plenty of buyers from Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Gamestop. Many booths now are largely areas of invite only, where they used to be fun places to mingle, talk games, and play stuff.
The Playstation booth was like a human habitrail of invitees climbing around in plastic tubes. If you’re not cool enough to get into the little bubble pods for a quick chat, you stand against the glass with your greasy nose pressed out of shape hoping for a T-shirt.
This guy showed up on the doorstep the other day. It was no accident.
Frogman (1960) by Remco. He’s just over two feet tall. He’s got dual airtanks attached to his back with a wire that helps him to find the surface.
Don’t we all wish for a wire to find the surface sometimes?
Sad. I can remember having a much smaller version of this guy. He went right along with the constant Cousteau viewings and shark posters.
By the time I was 14, not yet able to drive, I wanted to learn to scuba dive so badly that I just couldn’t wait any longer.
This toy was kind of a gateway object. The gauges, the decompression calculations, the knife strapped to your shin to cut your way out of monstrous kelp forrest snags. I’ve never really understood why folks think toys are mostly silly things.
I’m sure you find that some of the early games you played never really leave your mind.
Sea Dragon is like that for me.
At the time it might have seemed frivolous, but it wasn’t. It was new and different and exciting. It did something magical on the screen in black and white blocks that you could talk to by name.
It was one of the first games we tried to hack to learn to make it our own. How were they making it happen? We wanted to try and know. What might have seemed pretty frivolous can be important to you years forward.
It can be important to help a piece of toast make it to breakfast.
I’ve been following Feng Zhu for many years now. About a decade ago, I bought a couple of his early DVDs and really enjoyed them.
That his work is phenomenal is obvious, but his ability to share useful/repeatable techniques on DVD has always really impressed me. You can learn plenty just by listening carefully to the approach he describes on several design topics.
It’s really fun when he freestyles a construction before your eyes using bits and pieces of technology/animal shapes. Even if you aren’t ever going to attempt an approach on his level of visual mastery, there’s something for everyone.
What’s really fantastic is that he now has his own design school!
We often jump too fast to an imagined conclusion, and Hugh does a great job at constantly reminding us to analyze this process carefully. If you’re stuck wondering what move to make next, it will certainly help to clear the gears, and get you asking helpful questions again.