#17 Gamescom 2013

Originally I wanted to go to the Gamescom in Cologne on Saturday, but unfortunately the tickets for Saturday were sold out. Since I already have plans for tomorrow (Friday), I decided to go today. As an additional incentive, I knew that the masterminds behind Chip Power Play would be at Gamescom today as well.

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The event is running from 10 in the morning to 8 in the evening. I arrived at around 16:30, which meant I only had to pay half the regular admission price. As you can see, it was still quite busy.

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First I headed to the retro gaming area – nice shirt, dude! For any of the new releases it was standard to queue for hours in order to play for a few minutes. In the retro area long lines weren’t really a problem.

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Chip Power Play

Eventually I found the “Haus der Computerspiele” booth, with the old games magazines on display.

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The chip power play journalists were there. From left to right: Sebastian Sponsel, Stephan Freundorfer, Heinrich Lenhardt, Michael Hengst, Boris Schneider-Johne and Anatol Locker.

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It was a pleasure to finally meet all of them, after reading their magazine as a kid and then finding and listening to their excellent computer game focussed podcast “Spieleveteranen” (apart from the occasional special episode, it’s entirely in German) as an adult. I hope I did not annoy them too much with my fanboy ranting – the podcast really is excellent, especially when there are guests like Smudo or Guido Henkel.

Talks

Apart from trying new games, there are also talks at Gamescom. I happened to walk by when Naoki Yoshida, the Producer and Director of Final Fantasy XIV, talked about the latest Final Fantasy in front of a massive audience.

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At some other stage near the retro area some guy told a story how he used to play Paradroid on his C64. Next year I should have a look at the talks and pick the interesting ones to attend.

The Titan Fall trailer looks impressive and so does this huge mech that they had on display.

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The head with the lights actually moved around. I thought that was pretty cool.

Starcraft 2 show matches

Eventually I ended up at the Blizzard section of the Gamescom. I caught the last part of a series of show matches between WhiteRa and LiquidRet.

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WhiteRa is one of the only (perhaps even the only?) professional Starcraft 2 players that is older than 30 years. Hats off for still being able to compete with the young ones! In the matches, I learnt a few new things: WhiteRa kept his sentries in the mineral line at his 2nd expansion, so that he could force field block incoming zerglings. LiquidRet eventually moved spore crawlers across the map, which I did not understand, until the commentator mentioned that the vipers are able to leech off health from buildings to replenish their energy.

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It was also very cool to see them switch races for the last game.

Hearthstone

Unfortunately the line for Blizzard’s new game Hearthstone was too long, so I did not get to try it. From what I have seen during Day[9]’s Day off, it looks a bit like Magic the Gathering. They’ve fixed a few issues that Magic had: For example, in Magic you need to draw land. Land produces mana, which is the currency that allows you to cast spells. If you don’t draw land, then you basically just lose the game, better luck next time. In Hearthstone, you always increase your currency to cast spells by one each turn, so this unnecessary luck element has been removed.

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Because Magic started out as a card game, the computer version feels clunky, since you have to wait for an opponent’s reaction to things you do. In Hearthstone, they’ve removed this interrupt ability, so that you can play through your turn in one go. The only way to interact during the opponet’s turn seems to be with so called secret spells that trigger when your opponent does a specific action as described by the secret spell. Those are just two things that came to mind, there are probably more improvements they’ve come up with by not being constrained with traditional cards. Day[9]’s demo certainly looked interesting, so I’ll check it out once it is released.

The verdict

The Gamescom did not impress me as much as the Spiel in Essen does, but it was interesting enough that I’ll come back next year to take another look and hopefully try one of the new releases that they are showing.

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4 thoughts on “#17 Gamescom 2013

  1. Armin HERBERTZ August 23, 2013 at 09:19

    Did you talk to Lenhard or Schneider?

    Do you have an autograph?

    • kaiherbertz August 23, 2013 at 09:23

      I’ve briefly talked to Lenhardt, Schneider and Locker (all on a first name basis, though), but I did not ask for an autograph or a picture. Next time.

  2. Mark Hillebrand (@MarkHillebrand) August 23, 2013 at 10:26

    Met Boris Schneider probably 20 years ago, when he lived in Duesseldorf for Community Service. We got an autograph from him (though I wouldn’t be able to find it :), and also gave him a PP or PCP magazine to collect more autographs from the other authors. Alas, that magainze never made it back to us :)

    • kaiherbertz August 23, 2013 at 10:35

      I did mention that to him (minus the missing PP issue, that detail I’ve omitted) :) Ah, memories.

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