Feature: A Leipzig Experience – Part 3

Welcome to the third and final part of our experience at the Leipzig Games Convention Online, following on from Zoey’s experiences in Part 2 late last week. A show like Leipzig is ultimately about showcasing creativity, and there’s no better way to demonstrate that than our coverage of the case-modding competition, a convention favourite.

The collection this year was broad, with PCs of every size and shape included; from the pint-sized, Atom-based “Vibe” – literally about the size of a netbook on its side – to the monstrous, water-cooled gaming-rig “Mag”. It was also hard to miss “Hulk”, an entry which placed a PC motherboard in the hands of a statue of the titular Marvel hero. One of the more curious entries was “Atomic Cheeze”, a PC built inside a mock Leerdammer Caractère cheese wheel. The entry was totally played for laughs, but the modder clearly missed a trick by not ensuring that the accompanying plush mouse functioned as a input device. There’s always next year!

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My personal pick of the bunch was a pristine condition Amiga 500 case, which had its guts taken out and replaced with a more modern platform. To complete the look, the PC power supply was migrated to the shell of an external power unit and the system was paired with a genuine Competition Pro joystick, first choice to many a Commodore kid in the ’80s. The modder took the effort a step further than simply imitating the hardware of the inspiration; to finalise the transformation from Intel-Inside to Amiga AGA, the PC was running a copy of legal emulation-suite Amiga Forever, allowing attendees to get a round of Worms or Superfrog in. Great stuff!

Perhaps my favourite piece of technology of the show was not based on everyday PC hardware. I was pleased to discover that GamePark Holdings, designer of open-source handheld systems over the last decade, had managed to set up a booth at Leipzig this year. Being familiar with their previous homebrew-hero, the GP32, I was eager to try its latest successor, the portable GPX2 Wiz. The GP32 was a jack-of-all-trades and the Wiz is no different; not only can it natively play most of the popular media formats out there from a SD card (including DivX/XviD), but the platform is fully open-source and Linux-based, supporting games and applications of every type. Despite its diminutive size, its technical specifications are nothing to sniff at: a 533MHz ARM processor, high-resolution 2.8″ touch screen (almost certainly included as a product of the DS’s success) and an OpenGL graphics chipset should deal with most things thrown at it.

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The GP2X Wiz made an impressive software showing.

While Zoey stood by and tried to bag some Wiz promotional goodies, I spent some time working through a set of installed applications on the device, and was left impressed by its sheer versatility. From full-speed Quake ports, to personal Java projects, to emulation of other systems, there’s probably nothing else you’d want a handheld to run. Arguably, the place of the GPX2 in the marketplace has been made somewhat redundant by the more-popular PSP; ask anyone who has fiddled with the homebrew capabilities of that system and they’ll probably sing its praises. However, while Sony will (understandably) actively try to deter you from doing anything out-of-the-norm with their handheld, GamePark encourages it with the Wiz, and that’s what makes it so attractive.

It’s only appropriate that we end our coverage of Leipzig by talking about action-MMO hybrid Last Online. A bit of surprise, the game can be best described in layman’s terms as Devil May Cry meets World of Warcraft. Like the former, it features frantic hack ‘n blast action and like the latter is a massively multi-player online game. I managed to pick up the game partway through a quest, exploring a Gothic castle filled with shambling zombies, led by a towering, flaming overlord. I made it all the way to the boss without dying, but he made quick work of me despite some impressive assaults from my Dante-like avatar’s end. Undeterred, I also took part in an enemy raid mission out in the green-fields of the main world, which was surprisingly epic in size and scope; the huge draw distance and depth-of-field blurring effects really blend together to form something special.

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Last Online combines two game genres in an interesting new way…

You’d think a game so reliant on timing would require a game-pad for precise control, but Last Online successfully makes use of a keyboard setup, utilising WASD for movement and an arrowed numpad arrangement for attacks. There’s a full array of attacks on offer too; slashes, lunges, spin-attacks, grab-attacks and good old pistol blasts, which – crucially – can all be layered together to form new attack combos and styles. Of course, with a game this early in development, there are problems – the camera is a bit wonky and collision-detection is off. It’s still a shame that the game is currently in a closed Korean beta, because what we checked out was definitely promising.

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… of course, Zoey had fun just being in front of the camera!

This concludes our main coverage of the Leipzig Games Convention Online. Zoey and I would like to thank Kirsten for her help with the photos, the nice German man at our hotel for dealing with our endless requests, McDonalds for the McRib (don’t ask) and of course, all of you for reading!


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3 responses to “Feature: A Leipzig Experience – Part 3”

  1. Dave G avatar
    Dave G

    Sounds like the whole trip was one hell of an experience and very different to many gaming events.

  2. Lorna avatar
    Lorna

    Great trip the pair of you, lots of fun to read about 🙂 Now you need to get ready for next year 😉

  3. Scott avatar
    Scott

    Hi guys, thanks for the comments! It certainly was an experience to remember. I don’t know if I’ll have even recovered from it in time for next year, though! 😉

    Just in case anyone reading the article is interested, Zoey has put up some additional photos on a photobucket account of the event: http://s650.photobucket.com/albums/uu223/destinee_ehgc/Leipzig%202009/

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