Live from E3 ’09: The Return of the Glitz or the Future of Gaming?

Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is the bastion of the video games business. If GDC is for developers, E3 is for the suites and the media, the best timing to launch a new game, console, or business in the interactive entertainment world.
This event typically epitomizes the progressive blending of movies and games and this year also marks the return of the glitz.

E3 junk Pile

E3: A junk pile in front of the LA convention center

What about the future of the gaming industry? Can you find it here?

Here are the top 4 news that caught my attention.

1) Microsoft’s project Natal

Probably the most far reaching announcement of the pre show press conference was a new addition to the Xbox that will “change the way we interact with computers” (Bill Gates). A depth sensing camera and chip that recognizes natural human gestures, developed by 3DV Systems and acquired by Microsoft. More on the announcement at Seeking Alpha.

Although this is just a concept video, it seems that technically Microsoft has leapfrogged Sony’s eye toy. But Sony has already been dabbling with camera based applications for several years now. Expect a good fight between the two. Competition is good.

2) Peregrine Glove – Iron Will tech

Peregrine play

My biggest disapointement was the Peregrine Glove. It promised to be a “Wearable technology like no other”. It looks very cool, but it turns out to be  just a touch sensitive glove. Using your thumb touch different parts of your fingers to feed the computer with various commands…on a good day it could replace the keyboard when playing a real-time strategy game.

3) RealityPro by Digital Extreme Technologies Inc.

As I stroll through the crowded ailes on the show floor, I notice two geeky looking guys fighting with imaginary swords…and huge markers cover their forehead and weapons…

AR sword fight

Meet Bob Ladrach (with my kind of hair style) VP product development at Digital Extreme, an Augmented Reality enthusiast since 1992, showcasing a concept AR sword game. The demo was using Vuzix VR with mini cams and Artoolkit markers glued to it.

Bob gets AR: he preaches that it should be low cost, user friendly, and that it should look cool. AR technology is maturing; all it needs is someone to create an experience that people would want to pay for.

I buy that.

XTD Goggles

DXT think they can pull it off. They’re working on RealityPro a mobile AR hardware platform: goggles + portable mini computer + input devices for interaction with objects and characters in the 3d world.
“Reality Pro turns a walk in the park into a quest.”

DXT is essentially a hardware company and will encourage developers to build games and apps loaded on “easy to use mini cartridges”. Ultimately the content is what will make or break this device.

Games alfresco: How’s it different than A_rage‘s attempt?
Bob: 4 years of hardware advancement.

Games alfresco: when will it be ready?
Bob: in about a year.

Games alfresco: how much will it cost?

Bob: I can’t really tell. The first, probably $2500. Down the road it will be reduced to $400-500 a piece.

A bit sketchy, but good luck Bob!

4) Mightier

A nice surprise awaited me at the IndieCade booth, an organization dedicated to showcasing the future of independent games.

And here is one example from E3 ’09:

Mightier

Mightier!

Mightier solve

1. Print puzzles on real paper

2. Draw your own shapes based on the hints (dots and numbers)

3. Draw your own character within the given frame

Mightier view

4. Point the solved puzzle and character to your webcam

5. Based on your own “art” the game generates 3d shapes that help your own created character reach its target

Yes, you’re still glued to the screen, but it’s a nice step towards blending the real and the virtual.

Wish Mightier luck in winning the 2009 IndieCade festival.

So, are any of these game changing? You be the judge.

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6 Responses

  1. For those wondering about the “pile of junk” – it’s a promotion for Rabbids http://www.vooks.net/story-18075-E3-09-Rabbids-Go-Home-brings-back-the-adventure.html

  2. At $2500, isnt it a bit bezire to store stuff on cards?
    Internal flash memoy ver usb seems a little more sensible, especialy as even mainstream platforms are going digital distribution based (DSi and PSPGo, arguably made as a reply to the iPhones successfull online marketplace).

    Good developers for everyone all around at E3 this year.
    All the big console markers have 1:1 input methods for sensing, and they are all playing with AR in some ways.
    Both good componants for the leap we want to happen.

    I’m fully confident the tech will develope very quickly now, allthough I’m still considered about incompatibilitys and lack of open standards.

  3. […] eyes on the scene, Ori Inbar, has brought back tons of interesting inside information: IGC East, E3 09, Where 2.0 and reflections on the […]

  4. Please keep in mind that the demo was for proof of concept purposes and for people to imagine the possibilities.

    I also dont know where the $2500 figure comes from but it will be nowhere near that.

  5. […] Emperor’s New Video Games Posted on June 19, 2009 by Ori Inbar Microsoft’s Project Natal made the news at E3, and ever since it’s only growing in mind share thanks to “Late […]

  6. […] Peregrine Power Glove was a huge promise at E3 2009. It was also my biggest disappointment: Using your thumb to touch your fingers to feed the computer […]

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