Blog readership went up 250% for the week of E3. We have a very steady stream of people that read the blog, but this week the numbers spiked because of the show. I hope the new readers stick around.
One thing about E3 is free stuff. These items of wonderment can range from t-shirts to grab bags of mystery. I had not been to E3 since 2000; the free goodies are better now. I came back with:
- A wireless mouse
- A 128 MB Pen drive that actually can be used as a pen as well as a storage device
- Weighted pins of the Chaos Gods from Warhammer (very cool if you know what they are)
- A Breeders’ Cup hat
- An NCSoft backpack that is half pack half cooler
Not bad considering you usually get t-shirts and glowing rubber balls. The show ended for me as I was writing some late articles in the IGN/GSpy war room after the show had officially closed. The cleaning crew that was removing stuff from the room next to us had a huge boom box and they played the entire Let It Be CD. Not a bad way to end the day.
OOTP 2005 is coming along great. Todd and I got an “exclusive” look at a current build on the SI rep’s laptop. The database is freaking HUGE now. Winter leagues, International leagues, minor leagues, you name it. The release date is now “Early 2005” and not September but everything looks good so far. The speed has improved, too. I sat there in stunned silence as an entire season was simluated in literally three seconds. GSpy E3 preview is forthcoming. I’ll let you know when it’s up.
OK, Breeders’ Cup. The game is in early Beta so there were some rough spots, but overall it looks promising. Is it as deep as I personally want it? No. You’d need a PC version to do that. Does it look like a better game than Gallop Racer? Potentially. Stuff that I like more than Gallop Racer as well as other observations:
- It’s not a cartoon game
- No arcade silly kiddie music
- Real betting with Tri, Supers and Pick 3 wagering. I love me some pick 3s
- North American odds (not the Euro stuff)
- Real North American tracks like Woodbine, Belmont, Saratoga, The Meadowlands, and Aqueduct (and they are very accurate from what I could tell)
- Some real American stakes races (including all of the Breeders’ Cup races). Others are pending due to license issues
- Trainer mode, where you hire jocks (fictional jocks), spend money on training, etc. (Your stable can hold up to 6 horses)
- You can’t name the horses that you breed, which sucks. The upside is that there are 4,000 horses in the database and Tom Durkin calls every single one of them. So during a race, Durkin will give real live calls as the action unfolds. This still needs work as it isn’t seamless yet, but when Durkin called a stretch battle between Personal Ensign and Winning Colors…it kinda freaked me out.
- Yes, there are classic horses in the game that you may have to face as your horses improve. The list includes (I think, I’m going off memory here as my notes are incognito) Ghostzapper, Citation, Man O’ War, Ruffian, Winning Colors, Seabiscuit, Personal Ensign, Native Dancer, Funny Cide (ugh), and Smarty Jones (a lesser ugh). I understand why they’d include Funncy Cide and Smarty from a marketing standpoint but they don’t deserve to be in with this group. They want to license more real horses in future versions, and they are indeed planning future versions, so that’s good. No Big Red (that’s serious licensing $$) and no Alydar, Affirmed, Slew or even Spectacular Bid. I was hoping for some turf stars like John Henry, but ah well. It’s a start.
- Rain/mud effects look great. I saw a race at The Spa in the slop and it was awesome.
- The horses are animated well, they do look very good but I think Gallop may have an edge here. I thought the graphics in GR were great. BC looks good but I was hoping for a big leap over GR and I didn’t see that.
- I didn’t get to control a horse during a race although Bethesda reps say that it will be tougher to control your horse than in GR, which is good.
- The races themselves are faster than real races, just like in GR. I personally want a 10F race to take 2 minutes and change but I guess I’m in the minority.
On the whole I liked what I saw out of BC. Still rough in spots but it’s something that I can’t wait to get my hands on, being the horse nut that I am. I know we have some horse players that read the blog as well as GR vets so feel free to ask any questions and I’ll try to either answer them or call the Bethesda guys.