2:53 pm PT: We're live at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles (seventh row, to be precise), ready for Electronic Arts' E3 2008 press conference. It should get underway in just a few minutes!
2:58pm PT: The central screen is currently host to the names of all EA's internal studios. EA Romania, Pandemic, EA Korea, EA Montreal, Redwood Shores, Criterion all go whizzing by. We briefly glimpse "EA Guam," but chalk it up to the effects of jet lag.
3:02pm PT: A poor soul tries to perform the infamous "skooching" manuever as he attempts to reach a seat on the other end of our row of seats. We have to awkwardly lift our bags and laptops, smiling politely while we whisper out curses.
3:05pm PT: The screen blackens and a white EA logo fades in. A quick montage of gameplay clips -- Mercenaries 2, Madden, Mirror's Edge, Facebreaker, Tiger Woods and The Sims are all accounted for.
3:07pm PST: Battlefield Heroes, Harry Potter, Skate, Spore -- we don't think quantity of games is going to be a problem today. A final shot of Mirror's Edge ends the montage. John Ricitiello arrives on stage and promises there will be no statistics and pie charts. The developers will be talking to us. First up, Rod Humble from the Sims.
3:10pm PST: The Sims has always been valued for its creativity, says humble. He introduces Sim Animals, which allows you to create pets and their environments. "Some animlas are friendly," says Humble, before noting that some might be a handful. A clip starts up, and we zoom in on some sleeping bears. Aww!
3:12pm PST: A hand shakes them, waking them and sending them off into the forests. We see foxes and plenty of other animals growling at our protagonist bear, shortly before he falls into a stream of water. Thankfully, the mysterious hand picks him up and drops him off in a safe (and dry) patch of land. The cuteness is overwhelming. It's due in January 2009, exclusively on Wii and DS.
3:14pm PST: The Sims 3 is the next topic of discussion -- everything will be under your control. Your characters, the elements of their world and, inevitably, their kooky houses. A Sims 3 trailer shows a door opening onto the outside world, a place we and the Sims have never truly explored. There's a whole city out there, with Sims yammering in the street, in parks and by the beach. Did that one just dig around in a trash can? Hobo sims are here?
3:17pm PST: Glen Schofield from Redwood Shores appears to talk Dead Space. A dark drifting ship with a missing crew is the setting for gameplay innovations -- "zero gravity, just like in space." Schofield also mentions our favorite feature, "strategic dismemberment." We're in for a live demo next.
3:18pm PST: The protagonist, Isaac, lurches through a dimly lit hallway. There is no HUD -- his health is displayed on his back, and his ammo is represented as a hologram. Inventory is similaraly displayed in real-time. Isaac is suddenly knocked around by a huge beast, with th cinematic angle showing him flying off to the side from the impact. He gets up and returns fire. It seems one of his weapons can slow the beast down, allowing him to swivel around and take aim at specific body parts. Gross, but exciting!
3:22pm PST: We almost lost track of this whole liveblogging thing. The sound -- the screeching and growling -- is incredible! Things aren't going well for Isaac. Things are getting darker and... EEK! He's being dragged off by a tentacled thing, his fate left in mystery as he disappears down a slimy hole.
3:23pm PST: A creepy trailer plays net, with an unnerving rendition of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." It's one of those trailers that intersperses quiet, slow tracking shots with sudden scratching and loud noises. We wet our pants just a little.
3:24pm PST: Patrick Soderlund from EA Europe is up, and he's talking about Mirror's Edge. We're viewing a demo of the PS3 version. We're standing atop a towering building, straing at a city that sprawls in all directions. We run across the rooftps, slide down a zipline, dash up some walls ... it's all thanks to "runner vision," red markings that show you which items are traversable. "A first-person action platformer" is what EA is shooting for.
3:27pm PST: We climb through some vents and encounter enemy guards. Fight! No wait, we're running -- a much smarter course of action. We're outside again, sliding beneath pipes and slowing time down to leap in-between buildings. A dash over a fence, a couple more leaps .. the action is incredible fluid. The entire game can be completed without firing a single bullet if you focus on merely disarming your opponents.
3:29pm PST: We leap from the building and grab onto a passing helicopter. As it flies by a nearby glass building, we see the reflection of our fit female protagonist. This cuts into a trailer, showing off the game's wide-open environments, beautiful lighting and riveting first-person action. Judo chop!
3:31pm PST: Will Wright takes the stage and he's here to talk about "Spore." Never heard of it. Will talks of his love for his chemistry set as a child. Today's sets are "nerfed," he says.
3:34pm PST: Will was expecting a couple of hundred thousand creatures via the Creature Creator in a couple of months --- but instead, they reached 100K in 22 hours. The number of species in Spore? It exceeds the number of species on Earth, and it only took 18 days. Since God took 7 days, Wright concludes that Spore fans = 38% God.
3:36pm PST: Wright notes that fans even taught them new things about their own tools -- "I can't wait to see what they do with the vehicle creator." Wright seem utterly pleased with how the creature creator has been embraced, with even celebrities coming up with their own beings. Will Wright is also interested in the science behind the game, and enjoys having fans discuss the species they've created in terms of whether (and how) they could really exist.
3:39pm PST: "We're always going to be measured against The Sims," quips Wright. He notes that people get easily hooked on the creation element, and thinks it bodes well for how widely the game will ultimately be accepted.
3:40pm PST: A new trailer: "Behold the galaxy!" We see the life of one creature, from creation, to leaving the ocean and onto fighting with other creatures. He mates, expands and then kicks off "civilization." Cities are built, spaceships are sent into the galaxy and "someone has guided them at every turn." "That someone is you."
3:43 pm PST: Peter Moore is on stage, ready to talk about EA Sports. It's all about online play, notes Moore, who drops phrases like "connected experience." An NBA Live 09 demo is to be shown, with the aid of the NBA's Hall of Famer, Bill Walton.
3:46pm PST: His favorite part of basketball is the emotional aspect and the mental preparation, he says. The moment right before the ball hits the net is pivotal, he notes -- "You can't script sports." Peter Moore laughs, announcing "Dynamic DNA," a feature which hopes to capture that particular quality. Dynamic DNA breaks down to three items: "Player tendencies," which will reflect how certain realworld players tend to play their games based on recent analytic data. "Player DNA" reflects how a player will score and finally, "Team DNA" captures how players work in a team.
3:50pm PST: We're seeing a quick demo of NBA 09, presumably with Dynamic DNA in effect. Impressive animation! "We're looking at behaviours," explains Peter Moore, telling us to pay attention to how players react to your moves and how they interact with the rest of the team. Bill Walton approves, saying that the game sticks closely to the "beahvioural patterns" of the players. He would know, right?
3:53pm PST: As great as these sports games are, Moore says that more "fans" need to be targeted. That's what the All Play range is -- a series of sports games for Wii.
3:56pm PST: A professional golfer is brought on to compete against Moore -- apparently, the only way he stands a chance is to take her on in All Play. Peter grabs a Wiimote and sends his ball soaring all the way to the green. Great shot! "I'm just happy I didn't pause the game!"
3:57pm PST: Natalie's turn now. She takes a swing and... it barely misses the water. Her second swing seems unaffected by Peter's talking (how rude!). The ball's precariously close to the hole, but not quite there. Peter's side seems easier -- perhaps a handicap implemented by All Play?
4:00pm PST: The ball finally makes its way into the hole. We think it's safe to give this round to Peter. Plenty of other modes in addition to normal play, including speed play and a variety of mini-games. Being a Wii game, you were probably expecting that. The five All Play games will be available this Summer.
4:03pm PST: John Pleasants takes the stage, laying down EA's commitments of delivering more intuitive games, aimed not only at casual gamers, but "core gamers." Nanea Reeves, from EA's online group, takes the stage. She discusses "Nucleus," a gamer profile that will carry over from multiple EA games across multiple platforms, including mobile phones. It'll link you to friends and keep track of your scores.
4:05pm PST: It'll also tie into your DLC, including the content purchased for games such as The Sims and Battlefield Heroes. She introduces Shawn Fanning from Rupture, which has been building several connectivity features. Rupture users can keep track of their games and "social achievements." When a friend unlocks an achievement, he can challenge friends to unlock it as well. Fanning notes that the system is very malleable and easily applicable to any number of new games.
4:08pm PST: Time to talk about the iPhone! Tetris will support the touch screen fully, allowing players to draw the next piece they need. The accelerometer will also be utilized, with Spore allowing you to control your creature -- no need for a touchable UI at all. And then there's the Wi-fi -- EA's Scrabble will feature wi-fi multiplayer.
4:11pm PST: Welcome Greg Zeschuk, from Bioware! He's here to show us Dragon Age: Origins, a "return to roots" for Bioware and a spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate. "Become a hero, a martyr or a tyrant." Zeschuck believes Dragon Age will spawn a great PC franchise -- and on consoles, sometime in the future.
4:13pm PST: The Dragon Age trailer opens up on a group of soldiers, standing in the rain. "The plan will work, your majesty!" On the other side of the field awaits a group of monsters -- CHARGE! Archers launch their arrows, catapults launch and generally, all hell breaks loose. That's it!
4:14pm PST: Gabe Newell's here to talk about Left 4 Dead. "Convergence" is the keyword here, with narrative and social experiences combining into a single game, explains Newell. It's all thanks to "Director," a "big chunk of AI code" that affect the game and changes each experience, based on how you and your team behave. We're about to see two groups go through the same environment.
4:17pm PST: The noob group don't face too much trouble at a gas station. But the better players ... well, they have quite a challnge in front of them. More monsters and... oh, the gas station just exploded entirely. The noob team didn't get that!
4:20pm PST: John's back, as is the gigantic EA logo in the background. He's announcing a new partnership with id Software. John (Carmack, this time) walks onto stage, announcing the "big deal" with EA. It gives them full access to the marketing muscle of EA, says Carmack, without stepping on their creative toes.
4:22pm PST: Rage will signal a new vision for id: commence the trailer! The EA logo is followed by a sprawling desert environment. A car drives up to an immesne fortress, and we see a man walking through a seedy bar. The character models are very impressive -- even the growling troll thing that just snarled at us. Yikes.
4:24pm PST: Ricitiello's back and says goodbye, but not before urging us to check all the other EA games being shown at E3. We're off! Thanks for reading!