A short report about my gamescom visit

So… gamescom. I promised a “report” about it. ^^

We left the house at 7.30am. We’d planned to leave at 7 but of course, we didn’t manage that. Still, 7.30 was good, too. We went to the entrance of the area at 9.20am. I didn’t know that Cologne was this close! O.o On our way there, we did find one traffic jam… which was actually the end of the queue to leave the Autobahn to get to the Kölnmesse area (where gamescom took place). The parking space on their parking lot cost us 8 Euros. But that also meant that we didn’t have to drive around Cologne to find a parking space and then find our way back to the area. We also almost parked in the shadow… ;) When we came back to drive home, half the car was in the shadow which meant that at least the steering wheel wasn’t hot. Saturday was a very, very hot day.

We’d bought the tickets online. So we could just pass all the queues where people waited to buy tickets and enter immediately. Seriously, people… if you’re gaming geeks, why didn’t you know you can buy tickets online? ;) Even with ELV (very popular here in Germany where lots of people don’t own or don’t want to own credit cards: You give them your bank information and they pull the amount of money from your bank account. Also safe because I can tell my bank to undo it if somebody takes the money without having the rights to do so – or even WITH having the rights to do so but then I’d have problems with them because I’d owe them money… ;) ). Anyway. So we passed them and went inside. Our first stop was NCSoft! Then we realised we still had time left before their first demo. However, we also saw lots and lots of people walking around with paper bags that showed a picture from Aion on one side and a Charr from Guild Wars 2 on the other side. They had to give them out somewhere! After walking around the NCSoft booth, we found the guys who handed them out and grabbed two. That’s the only “swag” we got but we’re very happy with it. Within the next few hours, we had countless (okay, at least six groups ^^) of people asking us where we got the bags.

All in all, we spent most of our day near the NCSoft booth. The next time we’ll go to something like this, I’ll bring earplugs, though! At one time, we wanted to go to the TERA booth which was next to the NCSoft booth. But it was SO loud!

We also stood in line for the GW2 demo. Everybody was allowed to play for 40 minutes, though. We had 4 people in front of us. Erm… yes. No, thanks. ;) It would have been cool but we decided not to play the demo and walk around instead. We mostly looked and didn’t playtest anything. At the Civilization V booth, there were empty stands and no lines. So we could have tested that game, too. Or Dom could have as he’s been anxiously awaiting this game for weeks now. He decided not to, though. I think it was very loud there as well. It was loud everywhere… but just TOO loud at some places. ;)

Codemasters also offered everybody a 10 Euro coupon to spend in their LotRO store, so we were looking for their booth. Silly us… we thought that their booth would be with the rest of the Codemasters games. So we looked at the info magazine which said that Codemasters was in Hall 7. We walked towards that hall and entered. It was CROWDED. But that was the hall with Blizzard (Diablo 3, WoW Cataclysm and Starcraft II) and EA. So it wasn’t a big surprise. Annoying nonetheless, though. What I found a bit… weird was that both of them didn’t have “open booths”. You stood in line (we passed the sign that said “from here on: Wait time of about 2 hours O.o) and then… I don’t even know what you got to do or see then. It was a closed box that you entered. I think SW:ToR showed some trailers and whatnot. I think with WoW, you at least got to play through their new starting areas? Anyway, we again decided it wasn’t worth it. Besides, we wanted to find the LotRO booth for our 10 Euros. ;)

I did tell Dom at that point that I didn’t remember EA, Blizzard *and* Codemasters being in the same hall and I mentioned that I though we were in the wrong hall. But Dom assured me we were in the right hall. It turned out: We weren’t. ;) That was hall 6. So then we went to hall 7, walked all around and… didn’t find Codemasters. :( Only some “Deep Silver” thingy with Formula One. I remembered Codemasters tweeting something about F1 and yes, that was their booth. The guy we asked of course had never heard about LotRO and said that Codemasters didn’t have a second booth at gamescom. We went through all halls because I *knew* the booth existed (I’d seen a picture!). The last hall, hall 8, was the one that had a booth for a new offline Lord of the Rings game. We went in there and fiiiiinally. They shoved LotRO into a corner of that booth! Two monitors with short queues where people either entered their account information or created a new account (and we’ll hopefully get our 10 Euro coupons next week or so) and 6 or 8 PCs where people could playtest LotRO. We didn’t play, of course. We already know that game. ;)

Then we went around again to look at all stands/booths. Then we returned to the NCSoft stand to listen to their demo and Q&A session.

I realised that there were people of all ages and both genders. There were, however, lots of male teenagers around and hardly any female teenagers. If there were females, they were either still children (and there with their geeky parents ^^) or adult women. But still, from the adult population, I’d say there were lots of women. And almost none of them looked bored (in other words: I assume most of them were interested in gaming, too).

Funny to then see how lots of gaming developers (or the firms giving them money, rather) still concentrate on male gamers almost exclusively (maybe you’ve read the rumours about Activision not wanting any games with female leads because the gamers don’t want heroines because they can’t identify with them? – Here is an article about that).

There were also lots of booth babes. Some even got to go-go dance. Yaaay. But no good-looking half-dressed guys anyway. This world is not fair! *grumbles* (Although I’d prefer them to be fully dressed anyway. There is lots of sexy clothing a guy can wear if you ask me… same for women, though ;)).

By now, I’m also half happy and half sad that we didn’t inspect the TERA booth closer. The developers come from EA, Blizzard and NCSoft (all Koreans as far as I know) and TERA will be a p2p (monthly fee) MMORPG. They’re already talking about killing WoW. Now, have a look at this demo video. The female character you see there is from their demonic race. Here is an example of their armor. Careful, it might not be SFW!

Also, there’s one race, the Popori. The males look like panda bears. Here is a picture of the male – on the left – and the female – on the right. And yes, those are women. Not girls! And their males are… animals. ARGH! SO much wrong with that if you ask me (yes, I know… personal opinion and for some, it’s just a game ;) ).

Maybe I’m being overly dramatic but I don’t think I could play a game like that were females are obviously not taken seriously. It’s already bad enough that in all those games out there, female armor is usually just a bikini and a coat while guys get to wear real armor. But that… that is taking it two steps too far! Who wants to be reminded of butt sex the whole time they’re playing? Hmm… okay, maybe some. But I don’t. ;)

So, TERA is out for me. I don’t care how good your game is. If I can’t even stand looking at the characters, I will not get to like the game.

But back to the gamescom. We left at around 1.30pm. We’d seen it all and we didn’t feel like standing in any queues for two hours. I’d seen a few days before that the Warhammer community (Warhammer didn’t have a booth at gamescom) met at the Hard Rock Café in Cologne in the evening. And it was quite close to the gamescom area. So we left gamescom and went there. Dom’s never been to one (the one in Cologne is actually the closest one to us) and I’ve only been to one (in Cleveland). We were also hungry. So perfect. I had the “small burger” and was SO full, I couldn’t even finish my fries. But it was so good. Yummy. :)

The only picture I took was with my mobile phone and it shows the Kölner Dom. Evidence that we’ve been there! ;) We’d recharged the batteries for our camera the day before we left. Or so we thought. But the recharger thingy is broken, it seems. My mobile phone sucks when it comes to taking pictures in the half-dark. So no pictures from gamescom.

It was still a really good day and I enjoyed myself even without having played anything. But it was enough fun and quite fascinating to watch the different booths. And the people there. Especially those in Cosplay costumes. Some really good and some… quite funny ones. Though probably not intended. ;)

What I do know now, however, is that I absolutely HAVE to get Guild Wars 2! We stood there and watched some people who played the demo and it looked great… dare I say it… *awesome* even! O.O It won’t have a monthly fee (it’s not f2p either. You buy the game and there is an ingame shop like in GW1 where you buy extra character slots and extra storage space but no ingame items AT ALL! And you pay for content updates but you also pay for addons in other MMOs, so no difference there). So even if the game turns out to be bad or horribly buggy etc., I at least won’t have paid a monthly fee for it and thus, can always return to the game or just leave it behind. ;)