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Free for All: Fairyland 2 weirds me out at E3 (in a good way)


Imagine taking MTV and turning it into a physical place and mixing in the internet and the circus -- the biggest, noisiest (and surprisingly non-smelly) one of all -- then throw in millions of dollars in hardware, and you have a good idea about E3. I don't like noise much anymore, especially after playing drums as hard as my stick arms could let me for nearly 24 years. My ears are tired. My eyes need rest. I can walk forever, but information overload can drain me.

So I designated each of the two major show floors as "noisy" and "less noisy." Still, it wasn't as though I was being forced to walk on fire or to stab needles into my eyes. Let's be honest: This was the greatest assignment any game writer could ask for. Still, I wanted to find the games that no one was talking about. The booths that were tucked somewhere near the bathrooms. And find one I did.

It was a cool little booth that represented games from Taiwan. As soon as I saw that, I pounced. Granted, one of the games was not an MMORPG, but they were all intriguing. I walked around the entire collection of publishers and asked questions. I found some pretty neat stuff, too.

Click past the cut and I'll tell you what I found.

First of all, I should confess that I have had this burning desire to find a buddy from China, Korea, Japan, and other countries (I found a developer from Iran recently) for quite a while. I want a representative from the area to send me all of the cool new games that have yet to see our shores. When I was talking with one of the developers at this tiny booth from Taiwan, someone making a cool social game called Fairyland 2, he told me that last year alone over 1,000 new MMOs were released in Taiwan. I have heard these numbers before, and I absolutely thrill at the tidal wave of gaming coming from there. There must be something in the water, but the Taiwanese crank out MMOs like we spit out bands or movies.

"Fairyland 2 sounds like it was grabbing for that soft spot in my soul, sort of like a Free Realms on acid."

Yes, many of those games will be 100 percent pieces of junk. Many of them will be carbon copies of others. Many will not even be worth the time it takes to download. Of course, this isn't much different than the North American market -- let's not forget that. Poor quality is a world-wide phenomenon. Even with all those duds, though, you will find some real gems. You just have to be willing to look. It isn't easy. You have to develop an eye for design. You have to be able to notice the slight differences in the products. No, this does not mean that they are all the same; it simply speaks to a human's ability to develop tunnel-vision. Anyone who saw game after game will become accustomed to them all; they will all start to blend together.

So as I looked around this tiny little booth on the edge of the E3 floor, I grew excited. There was an actiony game, a social game for younger folks, and some other stuff that I wasn't very clear on.

XAOC looks to be a dark, futuristic, action-based MMO that puts players between Heaven and Hell. It's gloomy, for sure, but I wasn't able to get any playtime in. It's brought to us (well, it will be brought to us) by Winking Entertainment, whose website shows off some of the company's other games, but I am not so sure how they work. I love this sense of being lost and of having to navigate the language barrier. It's exciting.

After I talked to a very nice woman with impeccable English about her string of games, some of them social style games, I moved around to see a thin man standing in front of a netbook. I said hello and shook his hand and asked him what his game might be about. He informed me that the main designers had stepped out to lunch, but he was happy to fill me in. I sat back and watched as he summoned details about this social game called Fairyland 2. When I say social, I do not mean a Facebook game or something that will spam your Twitter, but rather I mean social as in a game that asks players to explore, craft, and meet each other, all for experience. He described to me a bus that goes around the main town and how many players simply wait on that bus like the digital homeless, waiting to strike up a conversation.

Then he told me about exploration and some of the ways the game will reward non-combat activities. Granted, he had a hard time finding the correct words, but we worked through it. It was lovely to finally latch onto someone who came from an area that I have always wanted to visit, to tour around his gaming scene, and to try to figure out exactly how his country is churning out thousands of games per year. Fairyland 2 sounds like it was grabbing for that soft spot in my soul, sort of like a Free Realms on acid. Although the game will feature a lot of combat, the main thrust of it will be to encourage people to play together, chat, and even post on their Facebook and Twitter pages from the game.

Of course, a lot of this information is foggy. He ran through a series of PowerPoint slides as I watched, mouth open, wishing that he might tell me the secret words that would teleport me to this magical bobble-headed world. I'm not sure what's happening to me lately, but overall Anime-inspired gaming seems to be one of the only types willing to take real chances with gameplay. I'm not sure these companies even care if their experiments work... it's all in the name of moving forward.

So while I wait to sneak into the world of Fairyland 2, I can only hope to meet more developers from outside this country. I want those fresh ideas, and I like to think that the world is one large playerbase, separated only by language. Wish me luck -- tunnel vision can be a hard thing to overcome. Perhaps at next year's E3, I will discover more of these odd, foreign, potential gems.

Each week, Free for All brings you ideas, news, and reviews from the world of free-to-play, indie, and import games -- a world that is often overlooked by gamers. Leave it to Beau Hindman to talk about the games you didn't know you wanted! Have an idea for a subject or a killer new game that no one has heard of? Send it to!

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