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Convention Coverage: GenCon 1999
Dates:Thursday, August 5th through Sunday, August 8th
Location: Midwest Express Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Event Management: Wizards of the Coast
Required System:Your feet and a willingness to have some fun.
Author:Michael Ahlf      Date: August 5th 1999
Page: 3
Game Overview:

Day Two:Today was the day to talk and talk and talk. I sat down first with Microsoft, talking to a developer from Turbine about the upcoming online RPG Asheron's Call (somewhat similar to EverQuest). Then I went to Cyber Warrior games, and talked with them about Rubies of Eventide, their upcoming game in the same line. After dealing with two online RPG's, I found something a little different -- Sanctum. This is Digital Addiction's gem, an online game which generates its money by being free but by requiring small charges for added materials: it's actually an online Collectible Card Game system, with "packs" bought and stored both on your home machine and their servers, and decks built and used very similarly to Magic:The Gathering. I stopped and played with Homeworld at Sierra for a while: it looks fun, if VERY confusing to deal with camera movement and unit movement at the same time in a fully 3-D space real-time strategy setting. My next stop, Sony, featured another online CCG (Chron-X) with the same basic buying system, and also was demoing the upcoming expansion to EverQuest --> Ruins of Kunark, which will add in a new player character race (lizardmen called the Iskar) as well as a HUGE backstory on the new continent to explore (HEAVY reading, in the form of a really big book, will come with the game for players interested in the new continent's background details). I stopped in to actually play with Strategy First's game Clans, an RPG which is primarily first-person but does have multiplayer, and which incorporates a vast variety of fighting, roleplaying, and puzzle elements (in five minutes, I'd seen all three used WELL, after starting at whatever point the person before me had left off).

Taking a break from computer games, I went to Precedence Entertainment's booth and tried out their new Tomb Raider CCG. This was a pleasant experience -- the game seemed well thought out, with all the classic TR elements (the cards even featured screenshots from the game) of searching and fighting. My only complaint is the chances that the game could expand its way off of all but the largest of gameplay surfaces, as the game plays by building a labyrinth out of the cards side-by-side.

Moving back to video games, I talked to White Wolf (makers of the popular Werewolf RPG) and found out that they have licensed a video game based on that system. Based on the Unreal engine, this will be a third or first person (your choice) adventure/action game, with puzzles heavily involving the abilities of the player to shapeshift between human, wolf, and werewolf forms even while running or jumping. I also had the chance to talk briefly with 3DFX, and can probably bring more information later on from that, as well as Kesmai (makers of the Online Multiplayer BattleTech which currently runs on GameStorm's servers). I'll be talking with Kesmai's developers tomorrow, and the rest will be ENTIRELY dependent on the events of the convention.

Games I saw and talked about today:

  • Asheron's Call, by Turbine Entertainment, to be published by Microsoft. An Online-only RPG

  • Rubies of Eventide, by Cyber Warrior Inc. Another Online-only RPG

  • Strategy First's "Clans", a wonderful-looking RPG with plenty of puzzles and storyline to keep a player going, and an absolutely INCREDIBLE piece of work as it looks as awesome as any games made today while running _smoothly_ on a P120.

  • Sanctum, by Digital Addiction -- an extremely fun Online-only CCG.

  • Chron-X, Sony's Online-only CCG.

  • EverQuest: Ruins of Kunark, the expansion for the EverQuest Online-only RPG.

  • Homeworld by Sierra -- Real-Time Strategy in a truly 3D (and very disorienting) game engine.

  • Werewolf, based on White Wolf's RPG system: expect more on this in the future.

  • Online Multiplayer BattleTech -- by Kesmai, on GameStorm servers. Heavy-Robot gaming to hold its own against any other game out there including HG2 and MW3.

  • Must-see/do events for Friday are:

  • Saturday is the day for Sci-Fi people: enjoy all the guest speakers and celebrities, as well as the events, but with this much diversity there's no way to tell ANYONE where they should go, sorry. Check out the schedule and rest assured that whatever you go to WILL be a great time.

  • Where I'll Be:

  • 9:00 Talking to Kesmai about the Multiplayer Battletech and their upcoming new version.

  • 10:00 Ice Age Draft tournament.

  • 2:00 Press conference by Precedence Entertainment, with speakers Walter Koenig and Claudia Christian.

  • 4:00 Urza Block tournament.

  • The rest of the day: Anime Pavilion (They'll be showing Bastard! sometime Saturday night).

  • And now for the fun stuff -- pictures!

    Me having my picture taken
    with "Lara Croft".
    The guys from Decipher are
    demoing their new CCG.
    The wonderful people from
    Talk City here to handle
    some really good on-site chats.

    A really big idea what the
    Razer mouse will look like.
    Robert Krakoff shows off the
    prototype for you to see.
    Wizards of the Coast's area:
    A bigger and better Castle.

    Activision brought in the
    Enterprise-E...well sort of.
    Gamers try out Elite Force and
    Star Trek: Armada.
    A fun place -- Foglio Studios.
    Phil and Kaja aren't here this
    year but the people there are
    great, as is the artwork like "Buck Godot"
    shown center.

    FASA's area -- Battletech and
    other fun board (table, relief map, etc...)
    games are here.
    So that you have a sense of the scope
    of things, this is approximately 1/5
    of the exhibit hall.

    Back to the day one information. | On to the Day 3 and 4 happiness.

    Gencon '99

    Added:  Sunday, August 15, 1999
    Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf

    Page: 3/10

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