We're at PAX!! Come see us. Buy our shirts! Come to our panel! Hang out at bars! Collect our cards!

Turns out there’s an emergency, super-last-minute panel going on that the AREA 5 team has been invited to! It’s a giant, ex-1UP love-and-get-drunk-a-thon thrown by none other than the super-mega-hyper-awesome Kathleen Sanders. Pretty much anybody that you knew and loved from all the 1UP podcasts (1UP Yours, Four Guys 1UP, GFW, etc.etc.), The 1UP show, and so forth are going to be in attendance.

Be here from 2:00-3:30: The Pegasus theater at The Sheraton in downtown Seattle. If you’re at PAX, it’s right across from the convention center:

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We ordered some T-Shirts and had them shipped to our hotel. They’re supposed to arrive today, but no guarantees as to when. If you see us, ask us about them and hopefully we’ll have some to sell. Yes, sell. Sorry that we can’t just give them away, but we’re trying to raise money for new projects. They’ll be a flat $20 each since we won’t really have the ability to make change on the spot. Super underground, super indie, super limited-edish. As in we have just over 100 of them and when they’re gone they’re not going to be made again.

Speaking of limited, find us and collect all of our business cards! If you can get one from each member of AREA 5, then just like Voltron you can make a MEGACARD that form our sweet-ass logo. Of course as soon as AREA 5 has 6 people instead of the five that we do now, we’ll never be able to do this again so we’ve only printed a limited run of these cards for PAX. Not the most awesome give-away ever, but we like games so we thought it might be fun to make our cards a sort of game. A lame game, but a game all the same. Here’s what it looks like:

Finally, we’er gonna be at a few places hanging out after the show floor closes tonight and tomorrow. Tonight, come hang with us at The Blarney Stone from 7:30pm until about 8:30 or 9:00. We didn’t reserve a room or pay for an open bar or anything, this is just where we’re gonna be and we’d love it if you could come hang with us! Here’s where it be at:

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Finally, Saturday night we’re going to be hanging out at the SEGA party at the Gameworks across the street from the convention center. The doors open to the public at 8:00pm and there are going to be, like, five megatons of people there so it might be hard to find us in the melange of peeps, but we’ll probably be near a bar ;p.

If we don’t see you at PAX, have boatloads of fun this weekend and just email us or comment in this thread and tell us what you loved most about the show. I’m sure we’ll have all kinds of insane stories to tell ourselves. Most of them will probably involve a sentance like this: “Dude, Jason was so drunk that…”

Oh, and we have a new website.


C2TV Episode Two

We followed the team to E3 and hid in the audience as Crysis 2’s immersive 3D gameplay was revealed for the first time to the waiting world. The Crysis 2 team then elaborates more on their unique approach to 3D as well as the intense AI that’s been gifted the game’s enemies.

What did you think of this episode? Comment on this blog post and let us (and Crytek) know what you’d like to see in the future and then make sure to go and comment on this episode in the Crysis YouTube Channel so that they know you’re watching!


C2TV Episode One

Crytek hired us to develop, shoot, and produce a new series leading up to the release of Crysis 2. In this first episode we get the first look anywhere of full 1080p video of Crysis 2 gameplay, some insider info about the game’s development philosophy and a quick tour of Crytek’s offices in Frankfurt, Germany.

Let us know what you think about this new series, here, and then make sure to go and comment on the Crysis YouTube Channel so they know you want to see more!


Microsoft's Press Conference Streamed Live!

Microsoft has graciously allowed us to stream the press announcement right here on our little corner of the web. Yes, we know you can watch it elsewhere, but we figured it would be a great way to share our experiences with yours. Get some comments going and maybe we can kinda turn this into an interactive thingamajig between us and you!

CO-OP Live 0106 - The FINAL CO-OP EVAR!: Alan Wake, Bit.Trip Runner, Enviro-Bear 2010

We’ve got a few special treats in store for this final episode. First, the return of JAYFRESH! (Woooo!). EA’s Visceral Games has let him out of his cell for this special occasion and he was in top form. We also brought on Alex Neuse, Game Designer and CEO for Gaijin Games, the creators of the awesomely awesome Bit.Trip series on WiiWare. More after the show:

We’re sad to see this particuar adventure come to an end. Area 5 isn’t going away, though. We’re still going to be doing a ton of work for EGM, so that’s where you’ll be seeing the majority of our gaming editorial work going forward. But that’s not all that’s happening! I wish I could say more… I know I’ve been promising more for MONTHS, now, but it’s just bad juju to say something is going to happen before it’s actually on the way to happening. That being said, we couldn’t have gotten nearly this far with out all of you and WE LOVE YOU FOR IT! Thanks for sticking with us through so much ups and downs and thicks and thins and rice and beans. You’ve made it all worthwhile and we’d have had to shutter our doors long, long ago were it not for the fabulous fans that make everything we do worthwhile!

Oh, right, the show! Alan Wake is finally here! 5-plus years is an epic development cycle for any game, and for one as high profile as this, it has some huge expectations to live up to. Ryan and I disagree on just how successful it was at achieving it’s unique goals. JayFresh sat in on this one, as well, and had some great thoughts to share from the viewpoint of someone who’s now in league with a horror-game developer.

As mentioned above, Alex Neuse of Gaijin Games joined us to talk about the latest (and some would say, “greatest”) of the Bit.Trip series of games for WiiWare. Very reminiscent of the classic Vib Ribbon, Bit.Trip Runner has the same kind of complimentary art+music style of all the other games in the series while being uniquely approachable as both a platformer and rhythm game. We play it LIVE in front of all of you while Alex kindly takes questions from all the fans.

Eviro-Bear 2010 was quite a mystery to many people until it popped up in this year’s IGF awards at GDC. It’s a tough game to get just by looking at it and an even tougher game to explain, but Cesar and Jason do their best as we head through the local In-N-Out drive thru.

Finally, we have an extended community segment where the Area 5 crew, past and present, and Alex Neuse take questions via Twitter and talk about what it meant to work on CO-OP, the fun we had with Revision3 and where we’re going next.

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Captivate 2010, Part 5: Dead Rising 2 Co-op Mode

In this, our final piece from our time at Captivate 2010, we show you what it’s like to march through zombie-infested malls and casinos with a friend. Also: FREEDOM BEAR!


Captivate 2010, Part 4: Keiji Inafune on Japanese vs. Western Development

Keiji Inafune has been around for a very, very long time. I could list all of his accomplishments here, but you’d be better served by perusing his Wikipedia entry.

Perhaps that’s why he feels free enough to give one of the most candid interviews I’ve ever been a part of. He calls out Japanese game development failings and even implicates his own company for its complicit habits. But Capcom’s message at this year’s Captivate was entirely about how they’re changing the way they do things. Inafune-san is more than just a front-man for that change; he’s the force of nature pushing it through. As the new head of Capcom worldwide R&D, Inafune-san is at the forefront of the company’s initiative to revitalize not just their core properties, but the very idea of East vs. West game design. His stated goal within his “Global Initiative” for Capcom is to emphasize aspects of Western game design that make it excel on the world market and marry them with the best principles of Japanese game design. This is more controversial than you might imagine. He’s even experienced resistance to this way of thinking from within his own company.

Watch our interview and then share your thoughts. Is Japanese game design floundering? There is no doubt its market is shrinking, but can Western design philosophies positively impact products that appeal to such a different audience? What can Western and Eastern game designers learn from one another?

Personally, I find many of the sacred cows in Japanese games to be at best tiring and at worst frustrating. There are many companies and individuals that do incredible, innovative work operating in Japan and perhaps they are just being overshadowed by the same-y, sequel-driven, larger entities that are simply too comfortable to change. Even Capcom seems to be holding on to some awkward, legacy design choices with Dead Rising 2 — our next and final Captivate piece.

The other members of AREA 5 and I recently watched Vanguard’s Japan: Robot Nation episode on Current. I can’t help but wonder if what we’re seeing from the Japanese game market isn’t just a symptom of the larger issue of Japan’s rapidly-aging society. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a question I’d thought to ask Inafune-san, but I’d be very curious to hear what he’d have to say about that phenomenon.

Also, I love that he references Heavy Rain :).


Captivate 2010, Part 3: Okamiden

One of the best things about Captivate was getting to talk to Capcom’s Japanese producers about their upcoming work. Okamiden, an adorable sibling to Okami, is the brainchild of Motohide Eshiro. We talked a bit about the art direction and Japanese mythological connotations inherent in the series as well as how this new game is intended to capture the same Okami spirit (punny!) while being more accessible to NDS owners everywhere. Both Okamiden and, as previously mentioned, Ghost Trick were favorites of Captivate for Cesar and I. Hopefully after watching this, you’ll see why.



As you might have read previously, AREA 5 was lucky enough to be invited to Capcom’s annual gaming soiree, Captivate 2010. We spent three beautiful days basking in the warm glow of LCD illumination… and that Sun thing.

As expected, we fought on the street, planets were lost, and the dead rose again. But some of the most genuinely surprising news to come out of the event, was Capcom’s decision to bring a couple of DS titles stateside: Ghost Trick and Okamiden.

Ghost Trick, the latest game from the Ace Attorney development team puts you in the shoes of Sissel, a recently deceased dude with a score to settle and the power to possess inanimate objects. He decides to change the fate of several endangered individuals, while uncovering the mystery of his death, one puzzle at a time. It’s kind of like “Ghost” meets “Final Destination,” if it were animated in Japan.

Still don’t get it? Don’t worry, just check out our thoughts on Ghost Trick below:

Be sure to check back early next week to see what we thought of Okamiden, Dead Rising 2, and watch our interview with Keiji Inafune.


Captivate 2010, Part 1: PR, Full Disclosure, and Integrity

Last week I went to Hawaii. I spent three nights in room to myself with two full size beds and a view that consisted entirely of ocean. I ate like a king, drank beer and cocktails while lounging in the Pacific Ocean, and sucked down the sunlight and mild climate as though I were an escapee from a Siberian gulag. I paid for none of it. Thank you, Capcom.

I bring this up as we’re about to launch several posts worth of coverage from Captivate, Capcom’s annual presser. Keep checking back over the next week as we’ve got several cool things to share. First, our thoughts on two great-looking DS titles: Ghost Trick and Okami-den. Then some cool footage from our time with the co-op mode in Dead Rising 2, and finally an extremely candid interview with Keiji Inafune about Japanese vs. Western gamers and game development as well as his new, big-whig post as head of Capcom’s R&D world-wide. Yes, a new Marvel vs. Capcom was announced at Captivate, but there was nothing to see but the trailer which you can find anywhere, so we don’t have anything new to show you.

I was conflicted about accepting the invitation to attend Captivate. Not conflicted enough, mind you, to not take a free trip to Hawaii—which, of course, begs the question as to whether I was actually conflicted at all or merely wished to be conflicted so that I could then write a blog post about how conflicted I felt. Most gaming websites and magazines (and those individuals with any sense of integrity whatsoever) have a standing policy to not accept gifts from publishers, developers, or their PR reps. Accepting travel and accommodations is more complicated. Some accept only air travel while others will simply not go to any event unless it can be funded entirely from their own company coffers. Bully to them, I say! Why even muck about with questions of editorial integrity if you don’t have to?

Not so simple a proposition when you’re faced with an either/or of paying your way to an event or paying salaries next month. Melody Pfeiffer—a Capcom PR exec who’s much beloved amongst gaming critics and journalists—was predictably candid when I posed these issues to her on our last day there: “If it wasn’t for us paying for you guys to come out, you wouldn’t be able to come out here.” “You guys,” in our case, means Cesar and I; there’s always a two-person minimum necessary to any video endeavor. She’s right, of course. She makes several other good points in this interview that I won’t regurgitate in text—we are, after all, a video team.

There’s another aspect to this. Robert Fisk, a journalist for The Independent in the UK and for whom I have the utmost respect, has said that one should never be “friends” with those whom he is covering. Granted, we’re critiquing products, not people and governments, but you understand the principle. You can get to know people. You can even get to like them, but being a friend is perhaps too far. Melody is my friend. I have several other friends in PR and amongst the game development community. How “compromised” I am is perhaps something I’ll never be able to answer, but if it’s a question of distancing myself from the wide variety of wonderful, talented people I’ve gotten to know so well over the years in order to maintain my untarnished image to the Internets, then compromised I shall remain.

I figure full disclosure is the least that we can do so that anyone viewing our content after this sort of event can have the information to judge for themselves as to how slanted or (hopefully) un-slanted we and our opinions appear.

In our defense, if defend I must, I get far better looks into games at focused press events than I ever do at E3, GDC, or even PAX. Also, Dark Void sucks.

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