Yesterday we spoke with independent game publisher Gamecock's Mike Wilson about their alterna-plans for E3. See, a few months back the ESA dropped the hammer on the smaller publishers and Gamecock decided to do their own thing close to Min-E3 Although Wilson says Gamecock didn't have the time to fulfill their vision of making Kentia Hall reborn, they will be living it up with EIEIO (Expo for Interactive Entertainment: Independent and Original) in the Hotel California (such a lovely place) and holding a funeral for E3 on the beach where everyone (not just journalists) will be invited.
OK, so let's do the basics, EIEIO. For those who haven't been following this little saga, what is it and then give us a brief who, what, where, when, why, and sometimes how, of the event?
EIEIO was the funny little name we gave to the event we were planning for E3, basicially as soon as the time and city were announced for E3 late last year. Early this year we locked up a space to do an alternative event, similar what we used to do for E3, just for ourselves and our developers. And then when the ESA announced they were actually only inviting about thirty companies, and almost all of them were public companies, we were inspired to do something a little bit bigger to give a home to these uninvited companies.
But, unfortunately, this year we were unable to secure enough space. And with the ambiguous way E3 is going to be this year, it seems like it's going to be a bunch of rented out boardrooms and conference rooms at various hotels. I'm not sure our efforts are best used to try and set up an alternative event until we actually see what [E3] is going to be like. So basicially, we're going to be using the time to showcase our games to the press. We're going to be at the Hotel California [for the three days of E3], which is a great hotel on the beach in Santa Monica, sort of in the middle of all these bigger hotels all the other guys are at. We're going to bring out all our developers, we'll announce eight projects by then and we're just going to use the time to set up and talk about our games.
You've always done something a little different for E3, even back when you were Gathering of Developers, but what's been your reaction to this new E3 format? Is EIEIO in time going to be the Kentia Hall crowd?
I think that an alternative event will grow. Um, actually, I'd say there's a really good chance this is the last E3. Or anything that's even remotely related to E3. In fact, we're planning a funeral service for E3 on the beach Friday night of this event.
There will be alternative [gaming] events popping up and we will be part of those. Hopefully we can help drive creativity and direction of making an event that's more fun and welcoming than the E3 that needed to die or this, sort of, I don't know what to call it ... the business summit, as it were.
Will the E3 funeral be a public funeral on the beach?
Absolutely, absolutely! (laughs) In all likelihood it'll be right behind Hotel California, but if the city of Santa Monica's restrictions are too strict we might have to move it down the beach a bit. It'll be a combination funeral for E3 and a wake (celebration) for originality, creativity and independent development. We think there's plenty of stuff to be excited about out there, all original, all from strong independent developers and that's all the tip of the iceberg. I think there's a real movement, the pendulum is swinging back I think. With more independent money coming into the business, which means, other people can green light things other than the sequel factories that have been running things for the last few years.
Do you think the funeral will be Irish style, New Orleans style or Viking?
You know, I'm partial to New Orleans style. Um, but since we're on the beach, might have to be a combination of New Orleans and Viking. We'll see what we can get away with.
So, the games! You guys have one of the more interesting lineups. So, what games will be playable at EIEIO and what will we be getting better acquainted with?
The only one that'll be able to walk up and play will be Fury (description at bottom of page). Those guys will be in beta mode by then. The rest of them we'll show you as much as we can -- developer driven demos, but there will be actual gameplay, we're not going to just show videos.
What's the theme running through these developers? Why them, why these games, why are you supporting them?
Um, it's hard to say 'cause the games are so different, the teams are very different. Some are start-up teams and some are quite well established. I would say the one unifying thread is that all these games are original, they're games we're excited to be marketing and they're games that all these teams want to be working on. We don't have any teams making games because we asked them to, or because we had an IP or a license. These are all the games these guys are super excited to be making and they probably wouldn't be able to be made anywhere else.
Now, you said the pendulum is swinging back to more independent development, why do you think that is?
Up until very recently, the only money coming into this industry was through the big publishers. Now you're beginning to see companies like Foundation 9, us, Brash and some others, that aren't on the radar yet, that are bringing some big serious money in without being a public company, [being a public company] comes with artificial pressures, and we all know what sorts of decisions that leads to.
How do you bring in money as independent publishers?
Basically just other sources. VC (venture capital) sources, wealthy individuals, film funds, international film funds are now becoming film and video game funds. The money is out there, people know it's a good business, it's just a matter of educating other investors out there to the level where they're comfortable coming in. That's where the independent film world led the way 15 years ago. Investors could feel comfortable investing in a portfolio of films rather than individual projects. Whenever the channel gets clogged, creativity finds a way.
Now you said there are around eight projects you're working on?
We've got six we've been publicly talking about. We've got two more we'll be announcing at or before the show, which are really big next-gen projects. Both are pretty fairly far along in development so we can show those.
Can you say what genres they are?
Yeah, one of them, for sure, the other I'm not sure I can talk about yet. One is a very high-end next-gen shooter with really unique aspects to it. We're very excited to have it because its from a very solid reputable team. It'll be one of the bigger name teams we've announced so far. The other one I'm not comfortable talking about yet.
Even though you don't know what you're going to be doing next year, and you had to do something very tight and focused for EIEIO this year. What's your dream for this year with this event, what do you want to walk away from it with?
Honestly, you know, for us, E3, I want it to be like it was before with us, with GoD games. Whatever went on in the convention center, we always had a great time with what we did. It was a reunion for our developers. Whatever the industry is doing we're going to continue having fun events for our developers to meet each other, so that our developers know who we are. We're doing so few projects, we're super excited about each and every one of them. And giving our developers opportunity to show their games, give the press an opportunity to talk to the people who are actually making it, rather than just communicate whatever bullet points the PR people come up with. ... Next year, I would guess, we'll be involved in something fun and hopefully bigger. There are so many people out there frustrated with the way things have gone [with the new E3] and don't feel they have a good platform to show their games. Alternatives will emerge. You know, whether we lead it or not, but we will be supporting those alternatives.
Will you show up at PAX and E for All?
Absolutely. E for All I'm not to sure yet. If more and more of our developers really want to be there we'll make sure they have a presence. I don't know how that one's going to go really. Because, it's in the LA Convention center and because it's being run by the same people [as E3]. I really feel it's not a place we'd want to officially participate.
Anything you'd like to add?
In addition to the funeral service, we will be having a more positive wake. We are hoping to employ as many of the unemployed booth babes as we can possible find, or at least invite them to the party. So, to all the unemployed booth babes reading this, please come to the funeral!
Will you have more details about the wake and the funeral as time comes closer?
Absolutely, the more we reveal early, the less we can get away with. Just know that there will be fun being had all around the Hotel California for the few days we are there.
Fury (PC) - Competitive PVPMMO combines fast-paced gameplay with traditional online RPG elements, developed by Auran. Ship date: Fall 2007
Insecticide (PC and Nintendo DS) - Insects rule a gritty crime world in this high action adventure title from Crackpot Entertainment. Ship date: Fall 2007
Dementium: The Ward (Nintendo DS) - A shocking survival horror FPS unlike anything seen on a handheld, developed by Renegade Kid. Ship date: Fall 2007
Hail to the Chimp (Next-gen consoles) - Mayhem erupts as the animal kingdom vies for a new king in this politically fueled party game. Developed by Wideload Games. Ship date: Spring 2008
Mushroom Men (Nintendo DS and Wii) - Civil war breaks out in a visually stunning fungi world in this action title from Red Fly Studio. Ship date: Fall 2008.
Dungeon Hero (PC & Xbox 360) - A sword-swinging, close-quarters combat, action-packed portrayal of life in the dungeon from Firefly Studios. Ship date: 2009.