Impressions from GamesCom 2011

I want to write more about Lord of the Rings Online and Guild Wars 2 later. But for now, I present you my impressions of GamesCom 2011 along with several pictures we’ve taken.

We went there twice, on Thursday and Saturday. Thursday was already full but Saturday was crowded and hot. I didn’t feel too well on Saturday due to heat and having that horrible thought ‘What if there’s a fire now?’ in my mind. However, on both days we met a few friends and acquaintances, so that was great (*waves at her G+ gaming circle*)! GamesCom itself was disappointing in a few aspects. Having to stand in a long queue at the Skyrim booth, for example. A friend walked around it until he finally found somebody he could ask what’s actually inside the cube. The answer was that no, there was no demo to play. Instead, they showed you some kind of preview. Nowhere did it state that it’s just a preview that’s shown to you. Said friend had hoped to play the demo. Luckily, he asked before he had decided to queue (long queue, of course. Wait time about 2 hours, I think), so he hadn’t wasted any time on that. The whole 18+ deal is probably responsible for that. You can’t show anything publicly because a minor might see it. So you have to hide everything inside cubes. It would’ve just been nice to state somewhere what you’re queuing for… or have a whole hall dedicated for all the 18+ games with an age check at the entrance.

This was on Thursday around 4pm or so in the main hallway. It was fuller than Saturday last year (I think. My memory could fail me here, of course ^^). Compared to this year’s Saturday, that was empty, though. In this picture, you can even see the floor! On Saturday, that wasn’t possible. I didn’t even dare to stop to take a picture of how full it was because I was scared to stop moving… If you could theoretically see the floor, however, it was full of paper (flyers, magazines, etc.). People are slobs. There were dustbins everywhere! Either don’t take the flyer/magazine/whatever or throw it away in a dustbin but don’t throw it on the floor! It was also slippery because of the paper. They had people clean the stairs, though, so at least that was less hazardous than it could have been. You can also find YouTube videos showing the amount of people wanting to get in on Saturday (they apparently had to close their doors for a while because too many people wanted in).

The SWTOR booth was also constantly crowded. The huge screen usually showed the cinematic trailer (maybe more than that also but it always just showed the trailer when we passed by). I haven’t spent much time there, so I don’t know what else they showed. In front of the wall were PCs where you could play the game. You can see the monitors in the pictures. Of course, queues were also very long. I didn’t see any Bioware people there but I know that at least their community manager was there. Even with the crowded area, if you went closer, you could actually see some of the gameplay on those monitors. So that’s a plus compared to other booths. Queues were always long but if you could at least watch something, I was happy already.

First up is Rift and End of Nations. The picture on the left is from Thursday. It wasn’t this empty on Saturday! I have no idea why they had that thingy (shown in the picture on the right. The correct word for “that thingy” eludes me right now) there apart from letting one person get in and have their picture taken by friends etc. It didn’t do anything but it looked interesting when they rolled the stairs close to it so you could get up – or down. I assume it was part of their End of Nations game. From the distance, the game looked like StarCraft II. No idea if that’s true for the gameplay or not as I didn’t get any more information about the game (I didn’t try, though, so that’s not Trion’s fault here! ;) ). I was a bit disappointed not to see more of Rift. It always seems like they’re having rather aggressive and proactive marketing so I would have expected something more. On the other hand, the booth was behind NCSoft’s stage, so I probably missed all the interesting bits. ;) At least, queues weren’t long and we could’ve played Rift if we had wanted to do so. But we didn’t. Bookahnerk wasn’t captured by this game at all and I have recently played it (when they reactivated accounts for a week) and while I did have fun, it wasn’t enough to let me spend a monthly fee on this game. Sorry. :o/ I do still wish them all the best because I think it’s also a good concept to put out content updates fast and regularly. Keeps the players on their toes.

I found the “China Pavilion” funny, actually. We didn’t stop and only passed by. The picture on the right didn’t turn out too well. We got the camera recently and I have no experience in taking pictures apart from a few snapshots here and there. It probably shows. ;) Anyway, this booth had all those walls with advertisement of various games. I didn’t recognise any of them. They also had tables and chairs. I have no idea what for… well, apart from having tired people sit down and chat. But there didn’t seem to be any interaction between the people who belonged to the booth and the visitors. Again, this could be a false impression as we’ve only walked past a few times.

I’ve played one of the Anno games some years ago. I always forget which one. I’m usually a fan of games with a historical and/or fantasy background. While I do find science fiction fascinating, I’m not a big fan of it. So when I heard that the new Anno game would take place in 2070, I was a bit disappointed. Not for me, I guess. But seeing those pictures piqued my interest. It’s not dark-science fictiony apparently. So maybe it will be interesting, after all! We watched players on two monitors and saw the long queue (not surprising by now, is it?). So no queuing for us. But at least watching was possible.

Not much to see on the left picture. This is the beginning of the queue. It went all around the booth, I think. But the layout was interesting. Unfortunately, I apparently only took this one picture of the booth. I think the booth was about Risen 2. Not sure if that’s the actual queue for it.
League of Legends was there as well. Their booth was crowded. So we didn’t stay. They also had some tournaments going on in the ESL area. Crowded as well, of course. As were all tournaments there, I think. You can see the area in the picture on the right. At least, they had lots of chairs there, so watching the tournaments was probably comfortable – if you had managed to get a chair, of course. Starting on Thursday and ending on Sunday, they showed several different games on that stage. League of Legends, of course, as well as Starcraft 2. I was surprised to see that Guild Wars 2 also had some show matches. One team consisted of players from ArenaNet, another was some guild… no idea who they were exactly. But they didn’t do too well. Not surprising, I’d say, seeing how ArenaNet probably gets to play the game a little more often than other people. ;) If you’re interested, here is a video showing one of those matches.

There were actually a few areas at GamesCom that weren’t crowded at all. They had a case modding competition and here you can see two of the final cases. You could vote for your favourite. I don’t know which one has won, though. When we were there, the voting was still going on. It was pretty nice to look at, though! I’m just glad that my own PC is in a black case now and the old beige cases that always looked like you were a chain smoker are out of style now. Ugly colour! Why did that become the standard anyway?

One of my favourite areas. Also not crowded at all! The retro corner. I squealed when I saw Bubble Bobble on one of the monitors. And yes, you could play it. It was also fascinating and a little bit amusing to see teenagers play those games. Guess what? You don’t always need high end graphics to entertain customers as long as the game itself is good! None of the teenagers I watched looked bored. Of course, I didn’t take a picture of the Bubble Bobble game. Figures. ;) I used to play it so often as a kid, though. One of the few games I could play with my brother without us fighting and yelling at each other (we didn’t exactly get along well with each other… ^^). They also showed old computers, consoles, etc. I just had to take a picture of the Commmodore 64! My very first computer. Bought it off my brother when he’d bought himself a new one (Atari, I think). That was also the first time I’d ever gotten in contact with a strategy game. You were the manager of an airline and had to buy planes, staff, food for guests while they’re travelling on your plane and all that. At first, I’d been disappointed that you couldn’t actually fly a plane or at least watch it fly. Took me a while to figure out what this game was about and it quickly became my favourite. I think I was around 7 or 8 years old back then. Ah, the memories. Nostalgia. Sadly, I don’t have my C64 anymore. We gave it away to family members.

On the right, you can see a bit of the booth for Siedler Online. I do play the game every now and then, so I was curious what they had there. Took me a while to find the booth (I’d written down the location but of course, hadn’t brought that note with me. Yep, smart move ;) ). They changed the English name of the game to Castle Empire, apparently. Here is a review. It’s in open beta in German, so if you know German and want to check it out right now, visit the official homepage. I was sad to see that they had a zillion laptops but not a single one had a bigger monitor, so people could actually see what the game looked like etc. Of course, you could stand behind those people and try to get a glimpse but you stood too far away to actually see any details. If you wanted to know more, guess what? You had to stand in line and wait. Well, I already know and play the game, so I didn’t do that. But apart from that, there was nothing going on, I guess. There were some girls/women who looked official walking around but they ignored me. So they probably didn’t have anything interesting to say about the game to curious bystanders. ;)

On Thursday, I met Rick Heaton (community manager of Lotro). We didn’t talk much and I didn’t even think about asking him any questions. He was nice and friendly. He also gave me pins with the symbol of the warden, the ring and the white hand. They also handed out coupons for a mount in game* (the Cremello one that you could also get at PAX East). I was still pretty disappointed. There wasn’t a big banner saying that this is the LotRO “booth” and calling it a “booth” would be an exaggeration already. It was a bench with three PCs in front of a wall. On the other side of the wall, you had the same setup for DDO. Apart from Rick Heaton, there was one other guy but I have no idea who he was. On Saturday, we didn’t see Rick but just one German guy who asked me which class I play in the game. I didn’t know the German name so I said the English one “warden”. He looked at me like I’d just spoken Japanese. So I said “the tanking class that wears medium armour”. More staring into emptiness from him. *sigh* Just for the record: The German name is “Hüter”. We figured it out after a while – without the help of the German guy because he was clueless about LotRO. ;) He did try to be helpful and said that there was one other guy, who was on break when we were there, who has other than the class pins to give out for veteran players (I assume he either meant the ring or the white hand pins). He told us that we could come back later to see if he’s back from his break. We could recognise the guy as “the older man”. Before he left (to wherever… I think to the DDO-side), he added: “But he’s British!”. I can just assume he meant Rick Heaton… who knows. *shrugs* We didn’t return because we had our class pins already, didn’t want other ones and wanted to see one or two more PvP matches at the GW2 PvP booth before we left and went to eat at the Hardrock Café (where, not surprisingly, we found a queue. 25 minutes of waiting time to eat dinner… -.- But at least, we got to sit at the bar and have a drink while waiting).

Now, for our personal highlight: Guild Wars 2. The one great thing about their booth was that it was totally open. No walls to cut off people. Also, even though the queues were very long (again 40 minutes for each demo. *insert dramatic sigh here*), waiting or just looking wasn’t boring at all as each wall had two bigger monitors on top where you could see what the players were doing in the game. As mentioned above, a few other booths had done the same and I was always glad to see that. Most of the booths, however, weren’t as prepared. Only two pictures for now. I’m going to write another entry about Guild Wars 2 and will post more pictures there.

* We may or may not have a few spare coupons for said mount from people who didn’t want theirs. Watch out for a giveaway of sorts that may or may not happen here next week if you want that mount and haven’t had the chance to get it yourself at GamesCom or probably at PAX this weekend. ;)

2 thoughts on “Impressions from GamesCom 2011

  1. Thank-you for trying to give those of us who couldn’t attend a “feeling” of Gamescom. Scratching the “living vicariously” itch. Very nice.

    Really lookng forward to your entry on GW2, and it was interesting the rather stark contrast of the “feel” of their presence there compared to the other companies / games. Yet another example of how ANet just seem to “get it” more than the other game developers imo.

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    1. Stop writing there. You’re spoiling my next entry. ;) That is: What you wrote is exactly what I want to get into with my entry about GW2. :oD The atmosphere at their booth was fantastic and I really enjoyed every minute I was there and watched and observed people/players/ArenaNet members.

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