Just nine days to go. I don't take off until the evening of the 18th, but I can't wait. Although I get just as excited about the trip and time in Los Angeles as I do about E3, I've been doing some reading on what I can expect to see there.
It should be a big year for console announcements. XBox was the first that I heard mention of, with the upcoming XBox 360. Then there was talk about the successor to the Nintendo Gamecube - the Revolution and the Gameboy - possibly the Evolution. I haven't passed along any pictures I've seen around the web since they are all most likely fakes. If you want to see some anyways, there are probably some up on my news page about console games. It catches posts about the upcoming and existing consoles and gives you an excerpt along with a link to the site where the story is posted. I don't write these ones myself, but there's a link to one of the Late Night PC discussion forums in case you find something interesting that you'd like to talk about.
Back to the show, though.In my experience, the prototype that's around before the trade shows is nothing pretty to look at. If the looks are all that matters then they could just hold up an empty plastic shell for us all to ooh and ahh at. If you really have a hard time looking at the plastic once you buy the game system and put it in your house, there are plenty of case modders out there and companies that make skins for your ugly-ass console. What really matters is the hardware inside. Beyond even the hardware there are software tools, licensing arrangements and the companies that will develop and support games and (more and more) the community around the games.
So I'm not going to ogle some flashy plastic case in Apple white, XBox black or any of the DS shiny metallics. I'm interested in the motions of the market, the undulations of the industry. Or, if that's a little disconcerting, I'm interested in hearing about what's coming next. What games we'll be able to play next year, how we'll interact with them, and how they'll affect the way we interact with each other.
My latest interest has been in online casual games. The market for these fun little distractions is an interesting niche and grows as the internet grows. In the past I've looked at getting started by publishing a wicked-cool immersive 3D experience. I've scaled that back as far as a DirectX Pong clone (and, truth be told, Jeff and I did get it up and running). Now I think the best route for me as an independent game developer is with the casual game. The lion's share of this market is developing in Flash right now, but I see room for good games using Ajax and (hopefully) SVG. I'll be looking out for others in the field at E3 and see what I can learn.
Of course I'll still take the time to stop and snap some pictures of the amazing plastic too.