Day 1: Tom, Dom, and maybe Ron. Also: All Star Wars games ever.
Realistically, this is going to all be about Star Wars, but if you read it all, at the bottom are some interesting Facts about CMI told to us by Bill Tiller!
Although 7 of the 8 titles LucasArts had on display were Star Wars, and the 8th was just a port of Escape from Monkey Island, the games themselves were pretty impressive. Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast, developed by Raven using the Quake 3 engine, was, for most people, the highlight of the LEC display.
The game, in development since February, has an unbelievable number of detailed features. Many people held Obi-Wan as the sequel to Jedi Knight, and after the PC version was cancelled earlier this year, there was uproar among fans. The reason given at the time was about PC capabilities and how they weren't up to scratch, but the reason given to me at the show was that during Obi Wan's development it was shaping up to be much more suitable as a console game.
Jedi Knight 2 is anything but a console game. The Quake 3 engine has been used to its full potential, and also features some pretty cool little additions: you can break glass, your light sabre leaves little burn marks on the surrounding environment (which will hopefully be useful at some point in the game, cutting doors etc) and light reflective surfaces also reflect laser blasts. The engine can also handle real time lighting, which is used to create beautiful effects when drawing your light sabre.
The game features all the familiar Jedi powers, as well as a few new ones. The most notable new feature is the ability to throw your light sabre at enemies and have it return to you. This feature can also be used to interact with the environment (e.g. knock down bridges), which allows you progress further in the game. All in all it looks like this game is going to be a great one, even though its not Sam and Max 3D.
A similar game to JK2 on display was Obi-Wan on the XBox. The game was shaping up to be much more of a console game, and they were right about that: imagine advanced Jedi Power Battles mixed with JK2 and you are close to this game. You can do cool acrobatics; Obi-Wan cartwheels all over the place. The enemy robot dudes run away from you if they get scared or outnumbered; an easy way to scare them is to use force pull to steal their weapons. It's pretty fun.
Just as I compare Jedi Power Battles to 3D Golden Axe with Jedi this game is like erm... 3d Golden Axe with Jedi and erm... Well, okay, it's just a lot more advanced. Basically, it would have been the coolest game there, but JK2 stole its thunder. It also has no multiplayer support, which will annoy some players. This was my first look at XBox graphics, and they were pretty good, but this game didn't seem to show off anything amazing. However, I was only able to see the last level, and quite a bit of the game was yet to come.
The story line goes a bit like this: You are (guess who, I bet you can't that's right) Obi-Wan as a young Padowan; some disturbances are sensed in the Force, and you are sent to find out what's going on. It did look like a good laugh, but without multiplayer support (mainly a co-op option like JPB), it didn't make me want to own an XBox. (An exhibitor told us that most XBox titles would make it to the PC within 2-3 months, however, another person told us that that Obi-Wan would probably never make it to the PC - their rather terse explanation for this was that they can design Obi-Wan specifically for the hardware in the XBox rather than trying to make it available for a wide range of hardware in PCs.)
There were some odd plot holes, unfortunately; it's a game where you play as Obi-Wan, luckily before Episode I, which must have some weird implications on the entire chronology of Star Wars... but maybe we shouldn't go into that right now.
Behind closed doors LEC were showing of their massively online multiplayer game: Star Wars Galaxies. They are truly aiming high with this project. The game is comparable to a prettier version of Everquest, mixed with... lots of other games.
Players join a server with thousands of other players, they can mine for minerals, work in a bar for money, become mayor of a town, run errands for other players, take up bounty hunter contracts from NPCs or gamers who want other gamers dead or you can just wonder out into the desert and kill stuff. This game allows you to play any way you want, if you don't want to be killed, then don't play the game to fight, use it as a political simulation game.
You can travel between worlds to import stuff, and initially the only way to do this will be to buy passage on a transport. Soon after the game comes out, an add-on pack will allow you to buy a Starship and fly around in space. This game is enormous. It also looks nice and has some nifty little features. The sun casts a realistic real-time shadow on everything, and there is a realistic day-night cycle. Everything is bump mapped and made to scale (we saw At-At walkers, Jawa transports and classic Tatooine buildings) Also scaled were distances, on Naboo you could see 2-2km into the distance.
When chatting to other players, gestures can be used to great effect. When you type in a smiley :) the player's model smiles. You can wave and shrug, and more than likely, scowl.
The Game takes place shortly after the original Star Wars film (Episode IV). The Death Star has been destroyed and Darth Vader is wandering about terrorizing the rebellion. You can ally with either the rebellion or the Empire in this game, and you can meet MPCs of classic Star Wars characters including Luke, Han, Jabba and Vader.
Players can choose from a selection of highly customizable races to represent them in the game, each have their own characteristics that make the species individually skilled. For instance the Mon Calamari can spend a lot more time underwater than other characters. The game sounds incredible, and if they can pull it off successfully online I'll be impressed and may even go start a town on Naboo someplace.
We end today's belated report with, as promised, TODAY'S FACT OF THE DAY which is in fact 2 facts: We met with Bill Tiller today who revealed some things of interest about CMI. The CMI Manual features a screenshot of Puerto Pollo which wasn't used in the game, the reason being that when Guybrush was superimposed over it, it was too obvious that he had been superimposed.
The second interesting fact is that Puerto Pollo was originally designed to be covered in battle damage, cannon holes, burned stuff etc, but when Bill Tiller came to draw the town, it wasn't. Reason being, he simply forgot to do it! He drew the town and forgot the damage. :)
We love Bill.