E3 Game Critics Awards

I agree with Raph - I get much more out of closed door demonstrations. It’s just much easier to have an ongoing, frank dialogue about the game’s features and design. You can also discuss the game with several members of the development team at once, which is essentially impossible in floor demos – you’re also less likely to be interrupted by some jackass from Walmart asking to see blood and guts and less exposition.

We demoed Ultima Online on the floor when it was at E3. We did SWG behind closed doors except this year, where it was both behind closed doors at LucasArts and on the floor at nVidia.

The demos were basically the same thing regardless of venue. The only real difference was how long people watching tended to hang around. You still do 5 minute loops for 8 hours. :P

Now, the first year SWG was shown, yes, that was different. And as I stated at the time, we were surprised to get that much attention. I think Tom Chick put it well when he commented that it was just a tech demo. (He was a tad more sarcastic). Yup, it was.


Yeah, we’d way rather show off our titles behind closed doors. I think, however, that it really depends on the type of the game. Our titles (RPGs) require a fairly focused demo to show off the cool stuff… Games that rely on visuals can get away with a great floor demo.

Oddly enough, the Call Of Duty demo on the show floor was apparently much better than the Enemy At The Gates opening scene they showed in the theater. Or so I’ve heard, since I was too busy looking at Nintendo’s new Pac-Man game, :oops:

First off, hats off to the gang at THQ and Pandemic for their Full Spectrum Warrior game. The game definitely caught my attention because it was an unabashed military sim that was NOT an FPS, and despite some noticeable rough edges, it obviously has the potential to be a really enjoyable game. Now clean it up and bring it to the PC or I’ll hate you forever. :)

Second, THQ: please get more room in “backroom” area or else stop showing so many games. Trying to see FSW in that small little area with smelly French and German media types rubbing up against me and cramming me into Pandemic’s demo’er is a tad annoying.

Third: with E3 as overwhelming as it is for not only the attendees, but also those trying to keep up with the online press coverage, I think there’s a definite value to having the press select certain titles from the hundreds shown as being those that readers may find interesting. After all, that is the point of the press coverage: to summarize what non-attendees (and even attendees) couldn’t otherwise have seen in those short 3 days. Whether media sites call them “Best of…” or “Most Promising…” or “OMG BEST EVAR…” really is, IMHO, semantics; readers know the press is just presenting a shortened list of what was the most impressive.

Yeah, but most impressive visually… I mean, no one actually played Halo 2, Half-Life 2, Fable, Full Spectrum Warrior, etc. at the show. Having someone demonstrate a game compared to say sitting down to play Viewtiful Joe or Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicle is an entirely different thing.

That’s what drives me mad. People think these impressions are gameplay driven despite the fact that few to zero attendees actually played the games!


No, what was the infamous apple zoom?

Oh, Call of Duty is a video game. For a minute there I was thinking that I feel the call of duty just about every day, but it wouldn’t make much of a game. I mean all the levels would be pretty much the same. Hmm, now that I think about it, “White Castle” could be a beginner’s level, while “Road Trip with Loaf of Banana Bread” could be an expert level.

Regarding #1: What would you clean up, or what rough edges did you see? That’s not to imply we don’t have any (we have a long list of things we’re refining before release), just that I’m curious about what others think needs fixing versus what we think needs fixing.

Regarding #2: I felt sorry for the Pandemic folks doing demos back in that room. I was assigned to arena duty, but every time I went back there I felt starved for fresh air within the first 30 seconds.


isn’t this like giving out awards for movie previews?

Just to be devil’s advocate, how much true understanding could you glean from playing the game for about 3 minutes, anyway? We had FSW playable in the back room and those who asked were allowed to take the controller and play it… but most did so for only a few minutes because there were others waiting in line. That’s true even of playable games on the floor–your time is very limited because of the folks waiting behind you.

I wouldn’t give much more “realism” credence to a review in which the writer played the game at E3 than I would a reviewer who watched a demonstration, because I don’t think you learn that much in 3 minutes (beyond a feel for the controls and the camera).


No, what was the infamous apple zoom?[/quote]
The Black & White apple zoom was a tech demo where Molyneux would start zoomed all the way out so you could see an entire settlement. Then he would zoom in to show more and more detail. When zoomed all the way in, you could a worm wiggling around in an apple inside a barrel next to the granary. Of course, the catch was that nothing else in the game really offered that level of detail.

  • Alan


that’s… i dunno… dumb…

I wouldn’t give much more “realism” credence to a review in which the writer played the game at E3 than I would a reviewer who watched a demonstration, because I don’t think you learn that much in 3 minutes (beyond a feel for the controls and the camera).

Thanks for proving the point that the whole thing is a bunch of hogwash.

As Andrew confirmed, it’s exactly like giving awards for movie previews.


It depends on what you expect to get out of it.

E3 was not originally intended to be a game review convention. It’s a venue for publishers to show their titles to buyers from places like EB, Gamestop, Best Buy, etc. The fact that the press has latched onto it as a place to get an early look at games is coincidental.

Unfortunately, that’s also started to morph it into a mix of trying to give buyers something cool to look at and trying to give media something cool to actually play. Either way you go, you’re displeasing half the folks there. The buyers want to see something cool and flashy, and you lose them if you can’t do that every five minutes or so. The media wants to get hands-on time with true gameplay, which translates into 4 minutes of learning the controls and camera then 1 minute of aimlessly walking around.

I accept the awards for what they are: it’s like getting a blue ribbon on a pig at the fair. You don’t know how the bacon is going to taste, but damn, that’s one fine looking pig. ;-)

I’ve been wary of all the E3 Awards for years, even back before my publisher days when I was a buyer for a national distributor.

This year, I found it personally distressing because one of our focus titles, Painkiller, wasn’t even seen by a number of the judges – I know because I asked a couple. Now, this game was fully playable (on 12 systems! No waiting!) and comments from many who did drop by our little booth were very much along the lines of “wow! This is the game of the show for me!”

With some 1600 games to see, it’s pretty hard for a judging committee to see everything, so GoTS Awards invariably lean towards hype-makers. Sure, Half-Life 2 looked great for a 25 minute video, but did anyone actually play it? The demonstrator didn’t even play it. HL2 was certainly the Story of the Show, but I personally wouldn’t allow it in any Game of the Show nomination.

Yes. At least by the time you see a movie preview, the movie’s probably finished filming and is being edited to final cut. Games at E3 that get awards can be little more than tech demos.

The “playable” angle of the Critics Awards is a bit misleading too. One would think this implies that the people voting on the awards actually played the games. In some cases, they can’t. In most cases, they don’t.

If the Game Critics insist on having these awards and getting hoodwinked into showering games like Black & White with nominations and awards, they should at least only allow a game to come up for awards once – let the publishers nominate the games they’d like to considered each year.

I’d also like to see the Game Critics limit themselves to considering only games that are shown on the floor. This would eliminate a lot of the awards that go to games far too early in the development process when they are shown behind closed doors. Just imagine if Freelancer wasn’t eligible for E3 Critics awards until it was available for viewing on the floor. Most, if not all, of the nominations and awards it received it wouldn’t have received. All of us who saw it the first year Digital Anvil showed it by appointment only were wowed with it. By the time it made it to the floor, it was a dramatically changed game and the graphics weren’t nearly as impressive.

I’ve gotta agree with you there. Many times I’ll ask someone to play a game being showcased so that I can see the game itself, not get pissed off at the controls or miss a bunch of stuff thrown into the demo just for the show. Armed & Dangerous is a great example. As soon as I walked up to the demo unit the lady showing it off (some blond lady from PlanetMoon. It was wierd, she just had a sticky nametag, not even an E3 badge) offered to let me play it. I asked her to show it to me and she walked me through one of the demo levels until the end. As she went through the level she pointed out the various controls and character abilities. Once she finished she had me play it, and I proceeded to kick its ass because I knew the controls already. No squinting to look at a control card, and no running in circles because I wasn’t sure where to go. Then I played another level that required no advance knowledge of the controls. All in all I really appreciated the whole experience. Show me the game as you want it shown while teaching me the controls, then let me goof off with it for a few minutes. Hell, it’s one of the few games I can actually still remember from the show!

As for people being bitter about stuff being behind closed doors only, well, I feel that pain. I don’t get to go to the demos because I have to scam my way into the show as it is, so getting to behind closed door demos is completely out of the question. Showing the stuff behind closed doors isn’t as bad as the press awarding the games best of show awards. Sometimes I wonder if they win the prize just because they got pampered by the developers and got a real one on one demo. Guys showing their games to the masses can’t reasonably expect the media at large to latch onto their game unless it’s up there with the second coming of christ.

Tycho had some very nice things to say about Painkiller, so that’s putting the right word in with the slavering hordes of hardcore gamers.