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  • Tue. Mar 5th, 2024

EA Studio Showcase 2007: Blogging Along the Way


Sep 5, 2007

Electronic Arts is hosting its media-only Studio Showcase event, and DailyGame’s trusty editor is headed to the company’s campus in Redwood City, California to bring you all the goods. From Army of Two to Team Fortress 2 (part of The Orange Box) and from Battlefield Bad Company to Wii Family Play, we’ll be on the ground checking it all out and bringing you the inside scoop in the days ahead. In the meantime, we’ll be blogging about the trip from Portland to Redwood City.
[4:58 am] This is an ungodly hour. Last week I was on vacation–in a time zone three hours behind. So really, EA is asking me to get up at 1:45 am “body time” to catch the plane down to EA’s campus. At that point, I’ve got to wonder why I even went to bed last night. Probably because I need to get some rest so I can pay attention today. I can’t wait to get my hands on Portal (part of The Orange Box) and Army of Two.
[4:59 am] For those of you who read that last entry and make some snide remark about getting my hands on Army of Two, just shut your mouth. The game has no homoerotic undertones, so just head back to elementary school and pick your nose, OK?
[4:59 am] Maybe that last bit was a little mean. Remember, I’m running on empty in terms of sleep.
[5:15 am] You ever notice how Grape Nuts crunch even louder at this time in the morning? It’s deafening, really. But I must continue fueling the body…there are games to play in seven hours (and for seven hours beyond that).
[5:25 am] Headed for the airport now. Fortunately I only live about 15 minutes away, and since this is just a one-day trip I can check-in immediately and walk right to the gate.
[5:58 am] Long-term parking…I wonder if it’s called that because it takes a long time just to find a place to park. Maybe it’s because EA’s gig is on a Wednesday, so the best long-term parking spots are already taken.
[6:25 am] Security was painless…what a pleasant surprise. And the man with the rubber glove was oh so gentle. Why on Earth do they make you take your laptop computer out of its bag? It’s not like the x-ray machine can’t see through my backpack, right? My theory: they just want to screw with the tech-savvy crowd.
[6:38 am] Our friend Brian Berger, from Sports Business Radio, just arrived at the gate. You may recognize that name from DailyGame’s on-air previews and reviews of sports videogames — ironically, many of which have been for EA Sports titles (Peter Moore would be proud). Anyway, Brian’s headed to Beijing and Shanghai for two weeks to check out the Olympic venues and do some radio broadcasts from the land of the Great Wall. Check them out; he’s an incredible sports-business analyst and one helluva nice guy. If you can’t catch his show live, you can always keep an eye out for it on iTunes.
[6:55 am] Well, the plane’s about to board. Good morning, mister pillow. Allow me to introduce you to my head. Let’s hang out for a couple hours, shall we? I’ll blog a bit more when I land. With any luck, EA will let me mooch their WiFi connection once I arrive.
[8:44 am] I’m still on the plane, but I just took a great photo of downtown San Francisco from about 15,000 feet. I had this great plan to upload the photo and make some snarky comment about this view inspiring Sim City. Problem? I left the USB cable for the camera at home. So…use your imagination and bear with me, ‘mkay?
[9:04 am] Houston, the Eagle has landed. Repeat, the Eagle has landed. Now it’s time to check the price of a rental car, compare that with the anticipated (sky-high) fare for a cab to EA, and go from there. I’m hoping the car rental will be relatively inexpensive, because the last few times I’ve taken a cab in San Francisco it’s cost me a load of cash. Honestly, what urban planner in his or her right mind puts an airport so far away that it takes $45 to get downtown? Fortunately, EA’s Redwood City campus is only 15 minutes away…but I’m still worried.
[9:10 am] I just gave the El Pollo Loco sign to my laptop. It looked like I was making a beak with my hands. TMR Bac from TheManRoom suggested I do that to wake myself up. Didn’t work. But the person next to me sure gave me a look that said “dumb ass.” Gotta find humor somewhere, right? (Oh, and if you don’t get the El Pollo Loco reference, drop me a PM in the forums and I’ll explain.)
[10:08 am] I don’t fear for my life that often, but the cab ride over to EA’s campus certainly made me evaluate my mortality. We hit the highway at the tail end of rush hour, yet the cabbie still hit 80mph dodging from lane to lane. He apologized several times, particularly when he hit the brakes so hard that they locked and we skidded a few feet. He said he was just driving so fast because he wanted to make it back to the airport and not have to get back in the back of the cab line. So nice to know he valued me as a customer.
[10:14 am] I’ve arrived at Electronic Arts’ headquarters. The inside entryway feels almost like a movie theater lobby, complete with loft-like balconies, 20-foot screens projecting promotional videos and game trailers, and even six E3-like kiosks hooked up to an Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or Wii.
[10:16 am] By and large, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone here over the age of 33, but I suppose that’s par for the game-development course. The older and higher-paid blokes are holed up somewhere in an office talking strategy. With that said, I just watched a lady bring in her son, Bryce, who was so fascinated by the revolving door that he interrupted his mom’s stroll to the office so he could spin around in the door a few more times. Here’s EA, spending millions of dollars to entertain the world’s youth with videogames, and this boy is just as captivated by a revolving door. Go figure.
[10:20 am] There’s certainly no shortage of Wii love here in EA’s lobby. Seriously, if anyone could come close to loving the Wii as much as Nintendo, it’d have to be EA, judging by all the promotional videos here in the lobby. The 20-minute video loop includes short trailers for Burnout Paradise, Army of Two, Rock Band, Hellgate London, The Simpsons and Team Fortress 2, but other than that, it’s primarily Wii videos. EA Playground, in particular, has a long video on this loop, and with good reason: it looks like fun (dodgeball, tetherball and a soccer/tennis hybrid minigame are all on display).
[10:24 am] Having explored the lobby a bit more, I’ve found three sets of glass doors, each painted with a blue EA Games, EA Big or EA Sports logo. Unfortunately media check-in isn’t happening for another hour, but I imagine my next non-lobby destination lies behind those doors.
[10:48 am] The drinks have arrived. All told, 21 flats of Coca-Cola products and bottled water have just made their way through the blue doors. That’s got to be where the Studio Showcase is being held….
[12:10 pm] The media room — complete with its wired Internet connection — was double-booked, so we got the shaft. “No live blog updates for you!” says the Soup Nazi. But I will blog anyway, updating you in pseudo real-time and uploading the minute the media room becomes available.
[1:08 pm] Surprise of all surprises: Peter Moore is making a presentation today. Yeah, like we didn’t see that one coming…. Supposedly there’s another “surprise” on the Great Lawn at 2:15 this afternoon. That one actually is a surprise.
[1:10 pm] The presentation opens with a video montage (Rock Band, Sims, Tiger Woods, Medal of Honor Airborne, Army of Two, Skate, etc.
[1:11 pm] I snuck somebody’s WiFi connection…we’ll see how long this holds out. They’re opening with Army of Two…EA has partial wood for this game.
[1:14 pm] Valve, Sony, Microsoft representatives are all introduced. So is Crytek’s big cheese and a few other luminaries whose names you probably won’t recognize. One name you will recognize: Peter Moore. Front row, far left…quietly waves to the crowd.
[1:15 pm] “We know it’s murderer’s row out there. Halo 3 is coming, Call of Duty is coming…but frankly, we’re not afraid. We’ve got a bunch of perennials on the way, and we have 10 all-new titles coming out this holiday and in the first quarter of 2008.” Among them: EA Playground for Wii, Skate, etc….
[1:21 pm] EA opened the Studio Showcase with The Sims, choosing to highlight The Sims OnStage. This new software (it’s not really a game, per se) is sort of a MySpace/Facebook meets videogames hybrid, as it’s technically tied into The Sims franchise but is really focused on letting people upload and share videos, audio and text about themselves for people all over the world — or just on their friends list / personal network. The site for The Sims OnStage launches today, and one cool feature for parents whose jobs force them to travel often will be making videos private. One scenario the Producer shared during the presentation was about him traveling for work and recording videos of him reading bedtime stories for his kids, which he then made private so only his kids (and wife) could see them. Very cool.
[1:29 pm] The Simpsons Game is up next, and it looks like it’ll be epic, crazy and a whole mess of fun. It’s divided into three Acts, one in which the Simpsons discover they’re in a videogame, one in which an alien invasion takes place, and one in which the family realizes they’ve not just been placed in one game but have been licensed for several. I’ll take a look at more of the game this afternoon and evening and give you more impressions as time allows.
[1:38 pm] Burnout Paradise is up next, the first game in the series developed for the ground up for next-gen systems. Interestingly enough, the lead platform (and clearly the platform that Criterion prefers) is PlayStation 3. The big feature this time around is online co-op, and from the looks of things, it’ll be an absolute blast. Think of it as a more-polished Test Drive Unlimited, and you’ll get a picture. All other info is embargoed until September 6, so…more impressions later. In the meantime, I leave you with this description of the online play from Alex Ward, the Creative Director: “dicking around with your friends in a car online.”
[1:55 pm] Peter Moore comes on stage after various and sundry games and trailers (Hellgate London and Need for Speed Pro Street being the most notable). This is just Peter Moore’s second day on the job with EA Sports, and he looks both well-tanned and like he’s hit the gym. I guess time off work can do good things to a man….
[1:57 pm] Moore unleashes what is by far the Line of the Year: “NHL 08, NBA Live 08 and FIFA 08 are all making their next-gen debut on my new favorite platform.” He walks over to the PlayStation 3 and pulls a PS3 Sixaxis controller into his hand. “I know, OMFG, right? Moore’s holding a PS3 controller.” Laughter ensued. Then he walked back to the PS3 and put the controller down. Under his breath, you could hear him mutter about the Sixaxis: “it’s cute.”
[2:05 pm] Moore talks briefly about NFL Tour, an arcade experience that lets players try to create their own NFL legend alongside current NFL players. It sounds like it’ll be the replacement for NFL Street, basically.
[2:09 pm] To wrap things up, Moore welcomes San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith onto the stage to play a new game called GameShow. Scheduled to ship for PC in 2008, this is basically a free “MMO” in which people compete in unlimited rounds of sports trivia to rack up the ultimate score. The emcee for all these rounds of trivia will be housed in EA’s Tiburon studio in Florida, and it’ll all be done live.
[2:13 pm] Alex Smith, apparently trying to outdo Moore for line of the year, has a funny quip when Moore wishes him luck in the upcoming Monday Night Football game against the Cardinals. Smith said, completely seriously, “It’s just the Cards.”
[2:19 pm] The press conference wraps up, and as members of the media are walked outside to the Great Lawn, an experimental military helicopter drops smoke signals onto the ground and lands in the middle of the EA campus, about 40 feet from a sign for Battlefield: Bad Company. The “experimental” bit isn’t all sci-fi, so don’t get too excited; the chopper actually looked like something straight out of M*A*S*H*.
[2:24 pm] With that, I’m headed to play some games. I’ll start a new blog entry from the airport with some quick-hitting impressions, but stay tuned in the days ahead for multiple hands-on previews.
— Jonas Allen

By Sara

My name is Sara Anslee, I live in Colorado. I am very fond of gaming, writing, and blogging. I share the latest news and tips about sports games, video games, gaming movies, gaming devices, and accessories. I also love watching movies and traveling.