Thanks to the awesome folks at Blip.tv, Sara, Kelly, and I got a chance to attend Digital Life this weekend. Like many trade shows it was very crowded and a lot of vendors made me scratch my head, but there were a few standout showings. Here's 6 cool things you missed.
Zazzle is an "on demand" t-shirt and schwag print shop. You upload your designs, pick the product you want them printed on, and set up a store. When someone comes by and wants to order one, they print it right up for you. The reason Zazzle rates enough to get on this list is that they produce quality stuff. Compared to the iron-on junk that Cafepress spits out, these shirts look awesome. They're printed in full color using dye sublimation right on the fabric, so the designs stretch without cracking, and they don't have to make up a different screen for each color and design like traditional screen-printing shops.
They also had a really passionate pitchman at the booth, and while I usually recoil from sales hype, he seemed genuinely excited about his product, and didn't mind telling you why.
In contrast to the showy front booth put together by Sony for the PS3, the Wii was incredibly hard to find at Digital Life. Only after wandering into a game demo area did we find the lone 2 machines, each with lines stretching back from them.
Seeing the wiimote in action, you can't help but get a bit excited. It's like seeing duck hunt for the first time when you were 6. You didn't know how the magic worked, but you knew it was cool.
The Katamari Damacy-ish Elebits shows off the wiimotes lightgun-like abilities at first, as you aim onscreen to zap little critters as they hid in various objects. It seems just like an updated duck hunt but the first time you miss your target, the game gets exciting.
Instead of just missing the little critter you grab onto whatever is nearby, be it a pot or pan, book, chair, etc. The game draws a beam from your gun to the object, and if you whip the wiimote to the side, the object flies off and crashes into things, revealing more critters below for you to zap. I have a feeling it's going to be one of the breakout titles of the holiday season, especially if Nintendo can get more Wii's into stores than Sony gets Playstations (not a hard feat to manage).
Square was showing off their next Final Fantasy game, which packed 2 big surprises (for me at least) that will most likely delight their fans. The first is that the game is once again a single player RPG, (XI was online), and the second is that XII is for the PS2. The number of people that will land a PS3 or a Wii, or even that have an xbox 360 is still pretty negligible. There are so many folks with a PS2 praying that it isn't already obsolete, I think Square made the absolute right move with this.
XII's fighting system is a mix of realtime action and classic RPG turn based fighting, and I'll admit that the graphics were a bit dated looking and riddled with jaggies on the flatpanel monitors they brought. That aside, it's an RPG from square, and they rarely disappoint when it comes to actual gameplay. It should look just fine on your standard definition TV at home, and this is one great game you can actually get without breaking the bank.
The zboard is a gamer's keyboard which lets you lift all the keys off in sections and swap in alternate keysets for different games. It's about a third wider than your normal keyboard with an extra 20 buttons or so, and they've got all sorts of game-specific keysets for different games. Check out the world of warcraft set they were showing off at digital life. If you've got a favorite game, they've likely got a keyset made just for it, and if not, you can assign any of the keys to your liking with an easy drag and drop program.
Growing up, some of my favorite games were the LucasArts' adventure game series. Full Throttle, Day of the Tentacle, Monkey Island, and Sam and Max all shared the same point-and-click game engine, animation-style graphics, and zany humor. They're the only games from back then that I still have the CDs for.
The team behind those games was working to revive Sam and Max and Full Throttle at LucasArts, but the project was squashed.
Undeterred, they split off as Telltale Games and created the recent Bone game, and is now putting the finishing touches on a great-looking new Sam and Max series, which has been released as episodes available exclusively on GameTap, a game subscription service with over 700 games (both oldschool and new) that you can play for the price of your subscription.
I'm not sure how I feel about the game subscription model yet, but just the fact that the folks behind Sam and Max are getting to continue doing what they do best makes me happy.
(UPDATE: It seems that the gametap exclusive is only temporary! You can buy the new sam and max games in stores November 1st.)
Just about everyone is carrying a thumb-drive of some sort now. As they get smaller and more prevalent, it's only natural that they should become a fashion accessory.
Mimoco has created a bunch of cute, original chracters that just happen to pull apart to reveal a USB port. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and Mimoco is bringing in artists as well as licensing brands like Star Wars to make more and more cleverly styled thumbdrives.
In the same way that cellphones and ipods are becoming fashion accessories, portable data device seem to be on the way as well.