"Blueprint for a Killer Title: How the Pros Do It" was a workshop held in late afternoon on Monday, May 9, the day before E3 officially began. Moderated by Planet Moon Studios' Aaron Loeb, the discussion brought together a handful of higher-ups from a number of popular studios, including Gearbox (Brothers in Arms), BioWare, Gameloft (various licensed mobile games), and NetDevil (Auto Assault). The concept of the workshop was simple: each of the panelists was given the objective of creating a game with a neutral IP: E3 itself. Power Point presentations were prepared ahead of time, and each of the panelists was given an open forum, one at a time, to pitch their games.
Bioware Co-Studio Director Gordon Walton's E3 MMO
Co-Studio Director of BioWare's new Austin MMO development studio Gordon Walton envisioned a serious game, codenamed simply E3 MMO, which was designed for developers and publishers to interact with and have meetings with each other, virtually. "When you're here, your time is completely monopolized," said Walton. "This is a way to find the right people to pitch to."
His game is envisioned as web-based, with an audience of both developers and publishers. "It's a very limited game, it's only for a few hundred people." Walton's E3 MMO would give publishers and developers automatic accounts as soon as they sign up to attend E3. He gave import to his game concept's moderated discussions, making sure all players are real, registered companies. The game would be entirely text-based, without graphics. His budget was estimated at under $100,000, with a quick turnaround time. He envisioned the first year's iteration of the game having a budget in the red, with profits starting the following year. However, he did not explain exactly where the revenue was coming from.
NetDevil President Scott Brown's E3 The Game
NetDevil President Scott Brown also offered an MMO game, though his was modeled to be free. The game is called E3 The Game. "Experience E3 from anywhere, all year long," says the executive summary presented on Brown's Power Point. Revenue comes entirely from ad support, and the basic concept is for video game fans to "feel closer to the game industry," and seems targeted at consumers who are unable to attend the real E3.
One of Brown's ideas is to incorporate a number of webcams in the actual halls of E3, for players to interact in real-time with the expo. The basic concept of Brown's game involves players exploring a 3D representation of the expo floor, with opportunities for individual developers and publishers to incorporate minigames and NPC interaction within their booths. Players would also be able to create their own E3 booths, and compete with each other for "the best booth." Completing mini-games and puzzles nets the player additional points, which can be exchanged for bonuses.
Similarly to Walton's MMO, E3 The Game allows developers to meet in real-time, but with the addition of consumer players and media.
The ultimate concept for E3 The Game seemed to be a way for individual exhibitors to create the so-called "E3 experience" for those who can't attend the show, with goodies such as streaming movies, downloadable game demos, and the like.
Gameloft Vice President Gozague de Vallois' E3 – The Mobile Game
Gameloft Vice President Gozague de Vallois pitched a mobile E3 game titled, simply, E3 – The Mobile Game. "The mobile platform is quite an exciting platform, but it has a lot of limitations," said de Vallois, pointing out the file and screen size limitations as well as the lower performance expectations. On the plus side, he said, mobile games are worldwide and very popular.
The basic concept is a "tycoon" game. "It's the mid 90s. The Games Industry is about to get really big, and a new tradeshow has been created to celebrate is growing success," said de Vallois' Power Point slide. "It's called E3, and the good news is: you're in charge of it!"
The basic gameplay mechanics to worry about, he said, include attracting an audience, reviving important hardware launch moments, and paying booth babes. He provided concept art of a mode called "E3 Babes Factory," which lets players create booth babes, focusing on body type, outfit, and amount of hair bleach.
The game would be launched on 550 handsets, in both Java and BREW, which is par for the course for a Gameloft title. It would come in two distinct versions: a 100k 2D standalone application, and a 10MB 3D real time multiplayer game.
Gearbox Software President Randy Pitchford's Game Developer Tycoon
Gearbox's Randy Pitchford gave what's called an "elevator pitch" because, he said, he did not want to prepare slides, and he wanted to challenge himself to use only words and emotion to pitch his game to us.
Pitchford's idea is a next generation game on the PC, 360, and the PS3. It's a "god game," like the previous mobile concept. He described it as Game Developer Tycoon, and E3 itself is only a part of the game. You have to generate revenue, develop games, and compete with cutthroat publishers to be the best product on the show floor.
"Everyone wants to be a game maker, and E3 is the best show, so it's the best opportunity for someone to make a game," he said, vibrantly, swaying his arms around like a conductor orchestrating a vicious cabaret.
A big part of Game Developer Tycoon is making decisions as to what kind of game to make, trying to make the best product possible to show off on the E3 show floor, where new challenges begin.
Ultimately, each of the game pitches were unique, though according to a show of hands, only Pitchford's was popular with this crowd. It's unfortunate that Vicarious Visions' Karthik Bala, billed in the show's program, wasn't present, as his pitch would have likely covered the portable console market.