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Pre-3 vs E3: the Hypening

If you’re a gamer, you’re probably in your element right now, utterly beside yourself waiting for big reveals and insane surprises. Some people are waiting for screwups and hilarity. All of these are modern staples of the largest gaming convention and trade show in the world. E3 is an out of body experience for gamers – our souls congregate together in the Los Angeles Convention Center, holding our breath, then screaming in unison. But there was a time when E3 was more welcoming to small developers; where independent games and foreign games could land a publishing deal, or find an audience over seas.

Games like FarCry, developed by Crytek in Germany, found an audience at E3, and went on to become industry giants. Games like S.T.A.L.K.E.R., developed in Ukraine, found a devoted cult following. In E3 2015, they would be lost in the background noise. There may be a growing emphasis on indie games in Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo’s conferences, but they are there as a formality – selected and groomed well before their multimillion dollar press events, rather than discovered organically on the show floor.

Frankly I’m not even sure if calling some of these games “indie” is accurate. Large publishing deals and free marketing kind of puts them millions of miles ahead of their competitors.
Frankly I’m not even sure if calling some of these games “indie” is accurate. Large publishing deals and free marketing kind of puts them millions of miles ahead of their competitors.

Therefore many developers, independent and AAA alike, have turned to the space before E3 to begin their hype. This is an event I’d like to coin as “Pre-3” – a time when the media is hungry for any news, and as we know: in anticipation for the meal, the appetizer becomes much more tasty.

In the two weeks leading up to E3, we’ve seen five enormous reveals so far: Firaxis revealed XCOM 2, Bethesda revealed Fallout 4, Sony revealed Ratchet and Clank and Hellblade, Bandai revealed Dark Souls 3, and more are sure to come. These games received media coverage above and beyond the norm, and more power to them – these are great looking games that deserve attention, and it would be a shame if they were buried under Calibration Advanced Warfighter Ghost Front IV: The Returnening.

However, this is great news for the independent game developers as well. It’s an excellent opportunity for them to take advantage of the media’s thirst while they are sharpening their fangs and waiting to strike. So, like the cobras and lions in the great Games Media savanna, I’d like to take a moment to hype two games that I feel deserve a bit more attention than they are likely to get at E3 2015.

Enemy Starfighter is a Space Combat Simulator created by Mike Tipul, who worked on such games as The Saboteur, and Halo Reach. On the last day of PAX, I lined up early with my friend Travis, and my fellow AYB correspondent Orion. They had their eyes on prizes at the Intel booth. I wanted to check out Enemy Starfighter, which I had been following, but hadn’t yet had the chance to play.

When the doors opened, I speed walked (no running allowed) to the Indie Megabooth, and much to my surprise, despite being ahead of the crowd, there was already a lineup of over a dozen people waiting. Other developers at PAX abandoned their booths to line up and play this game before the show floor opened. When I finally got the chance to play, placing the Oculus Rift over my eyes was like stepping into another world. I immediately forgot that I was in a conference hall surrounded by hundreds of people. I felt as if I was actually flying through space.

Fortunately, while I waited, Mr. Tipul was kind enough to talk about the game’s development, and its inspirations (Homeworld Cataclysm, X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter, and Rainbow Six). He also gave me this sweet free poster!

This is why I was excited to learn that, after a seven month news hiatus, Marauder Interactive made a large news post regarding Enemy Starfighter this week. In this news post, Mike Tipul revealed that the game will be released (to early access) this Summer, and revealed the game’s composer. He also talks in depth about scope creep, and how games development can become a runaway train.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjjQtge5ssQ

Shadow Warrior was a reboot of the classic 3D Realms Build Engine shooter. Developed by Flying Wild Hog, the game was unequivocally my game of the year for 2013. Rather than key hunting in labyrinthian levels with simple guns, they created intricate and beautiful levels to explore, with arena combat sequences and character powers similar to Devil May Cry. Rather than racially-charged offensive one liners, the Shadow Warrior reboot was a tale of redemption, following the hero on his journey from being a loud mouthed assassin, to becoming a true hero and friend.

“I used to be an asshole” says Lo Wang, in a pivotal character-defining moment of self awareness. But he's still not afraid to kick some ass, as you can see.
“I used to be an asshole” says Lo Wang, in a pivotal character-defining moment of self awareness. But he’s still not afraid to kick some ass, as you can see.

This was not just the redemption of a character in a story, this was the redemption of a franchise once known for its offensiveness. However, despite being a character driven story of redemption, it did not abandon its classic shooter roots. The game still features over the top weapons, tongue-in-cheek references to other games, and doesn’t skimp on the difficulty. Not to mention it took nearly 20 hours to complete the campaign.

When they released Shadow Warrior on PS4 and XboxOne in 2014, I was under the impression that a sequel was a few years away. Even though it was tons of fun, when they released their next game, JuJu, I thought there was no chance there would be a sequel to Shadow Warrior. Boy was I wrong. Recently, they posted this on their facebook:

“Who wants some more Wang?” Says their facebook. Seriously though, does this remind anyone else of Trogdor?
“Who wants some more Wang?” Says their facebook. Seriously though, does this remind anyone else of Trogdor?

So there you have it, those are just two games I feel deserve a bit more attention before E3 2015. I would hate to see them buried, so I will do my best to give them the coverage I think they deserve. If you’ve got any other games that you think deserve more attention, be sure to share them in the comments below. Also make sure to check out my post on AYB’s Content Team’s E3 wishlist and predictions! Thanks for reading!

Update: Flying Wild Hog has officially released a trailer. Four player co-op confirmed. Awesome cheesy metal confirmed. Gameplay reveal coming June 15th at 2:00 PM on twitch! Stay tuned, and check out the trailer below!

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