August 6, 2007 - It's no secret that E3 was different this year. The lonely halls and the closed meeting rooms might have capped the energy of the show, but the casual atmosphere allowed journalists to really spend time on the games they were covering without the lines, noise, and attendants rushing you off the demos. The modest pavilion floor was the only real "show floor," and it was there that I found Silicon Knights president Dennis Dyack, milling about the sole Too Human demo kiosk.
It was quite a change from the last time I played Too Human at E3 2006. That year, I waited in line for a chance to play one of eight specially-designed, sit-down units. It was one of the biggest games of the show, and yet the backlash of negative press was fierce. Silicon Knights decided to sit out E3 the next year while they worked on polishing their new engine.
Now Dennis is back at E3, and the outspoken game designer seemed genuinely happy to be there. The quiet of the new show allowed us to sit down and have a lengthy chat about not only Too Human, but the state of the industry and game journalism.
CCC: E3 2006 was a bit of a controversial year for Too Human. How are you feeling about the show this year and how you're represented?
DD: I feel really good, actually. When it comes to substance, I think we have the biggest presence - not as far as show itself, but overall impact - because we released the demo on Xbox LIVE after the announcement, and there are hundreds of thousands of people able to play the game, whereas here there's a select number of journalists that can play and give their impressions. I think with Too Human especially, because it's such a different game, it's really important that people put their hands on it and play it themselves.
CCC: Do you think that the media has created an image problem for the game?
[sighs] Well, because the game is so different, we had that show in 2006 that, quite frankly, left a lasting impression - people still talk about it - and it's a history involving the press that's really irrelevant to the gamer.
The problem with that is separating yourself from the information. The player at home doesn't need to concern himself with any of this; he just needs to know if the end result is a good game or not. From our perspective, it's really best just to get it into the gamers' hands. I wouldn't say that the press is being unfair, but we've certainly had our trials and tribulations with Too Human.
CCC: We can tell that the game has come a long way from its 2006 incarnation, which was clearly an early build.
DD: Oh, thank you. We switched engines too, so that had something to do with it.
CCC: I wanted to ask you about that. Seeing how Unreal Engine 3 has evolved since you made the decision to drop it, are you still completely happy about switching to your own engine?
DD: Oh, there's no question.
CCC: So how has the game grown as a result of that change?
DD: We're able to do all the things we thought we should be able to do previously. We can have as many enemies on screen as we want, faster load times, switching quickly between vastly different areas without any loading... We're really happy with the speed of the engine and the amount of lights we can have. It's been a rough road, but the end result is, in our eyes, very worthwhile.