All About RicardoT
15Jan 07So here I am. It's close to 10pm Monday night and I'm in a line at the Fry's in Sunnyvale- they're doing a midnight launch for Burning Crusade. Mac and I came down to shoot some interviews with the Blizzard folks who came on down to attend the sale and the signing. We both kinda laughed at the deja vu of us in the middle of a mob of people lining up for something games related in insane cold. There's a radio station here amping people up (well the front of the line anyway, by the time I got done with my business I wound up in the part of the line that wound around the building- boo!). Past few months were so busy I fricking forgot to preorder a CE so here I am. Woo. The interviews went well, Shane (Dabiri, producer) remembered us from the last time we interviewed him at Walk of Game so that was cool. We did our standard interview then went through the line with Shane and Justin Thivrat, art director. we talked to folks, some of which have been here since 10pm last night. Shane and Justin got a kick out of what people had to say. I gotta say, this is easily the most eclectic line I've been in yet not to mention the biggest line I think I've ever been in for software. There's probably about a thousand people in line here, with more showing up as I type. This is pretty insane when you consider it's freezing temperatures out tonight (man I knew I should worn like 2 more pairs of thermal undies...). Lord only knows how slammed the servers are going to be tonight and the rest of this week. Anyhoo, that's what I got for now. I'll update in a bit with pics and some more musings when I thaw out my hands- did i mention the "freezing temperatures" thing?
So I meant to update sooner but we've kind of been on crazy train since hitting town. It hasn't let up but, although I should be doing something smart like taking a nap or something before our coverage of tonight's Wii-splosion in Times Square, I figured I'd write out some stuff to fill folks in on what's been going on. Here's a quick run through:
Ryan Mac, Myself and the boys all flew out to New York (via New Jersey). We got in evening time and once we checked into our hotel made our way to the Sony Style store in Sony Plaza. The line for PS3's was pretty hefty so we did some taping and then headed back to the rooms to pass out.
D-day for us. The crew took to the streets of NY and hit a few places to do some taping at various lines. We hit the Circuit City and Best Buy lines to see how folks were doing there. I gotta say, in a non pandering "HELLO CLEVELAND" kind of way, that I do love New York and its peeps. It's a great city with good people. Anyhoo, back to our day:
Later that afternoon we headed on over to the Sony Store to set up our live broadcast. It was crazy to get everything together in time. The way things worked out we couldn't get in until a little after 4 to set all our stuff up which didn't give us much wiggle room in case something was busted or didn't go like we planned. Fortunately it all worked out well. Have to say it's pretty insane to think that this whole live thing was a crazy notion Mac and I tossed around a few months ago when we started brainstorming launch ideas. At the time I remember we were both like "This'll probably never happen..." and yet there we were setting up. If you saw the broadcast you got a taste for how crazy things were. Anytime we do something like this we try to prepare for anything that could go awry but there's always stuff you can't plan for that happens. Like when Charlie Murphy did his shout out or when a glass door was closed and severed our power line in a Fantavision like display of sparks forcing us to go all "MacGyver" to get back up and running. Mac's amazing that way. Once that was done it was tear down time and a crawl to the hotel to sleep.
So we slept most of the day since we weren't back to the rooms and sorted until about 3 am (ouch). Once everyone was conscious we split up with one team heading out to check out Wii lines and the other going to set up our tech for Saturday night. Way later in the day I met up with folks at the Nintendo World store in Rockefeller Center and poked around, squeezed in some Christmas shopping since I haven't even started. Once that was sorted we headed back to the hotel for some sleep since we expected Saturday was going to be insane.
We were up and out this morning and started making our rounds. We hit up Toys R Us in Times Square, which is gonna be ground zero tonight, to do some early filming and check things out. There's a new Wii section on the second floor that was put in especially for the launch. The lower level's gotten a bunch of extra monitors in that are running Wii trailers or have playable games on them. Zelda is actually running on a 70 inch monitor which is sweet. Once we were done there, we headed back to the Nintendo store to check on our homies from the day before. The line at the store was much longer so we shot interviews with a whole bunch of people for tonight's show. Once that was done we headed on back to the hotel which brings me to right now:
The plan now is to go interview Reggie before it gets too crazy, gotta head out in 10 minutes. Once that's done we'll come back, rest up, prep the gear and head over. The festivities kick off a few hours after that and then it's on. Whew. Hope folks are digging the coverage. Come back and check out the stream in a few hours. For the New Yorkers out here, come say hi if you see us at the event. You might wind up on camera!
One Big Blur
So I'm sitting here on a bus speeding to Narita International Airport in Japan on my way home after a whirlwind trip to Japan for PS3 launch. I meant to write something in my blog during the trip but it's been just a little crazy so the ride to the airport has turned out to be the first chance I've had. So here's a quick run through the trip.
Left SFO Tuesday morning got in Wednesday night. Awesome traffic stretched the normally two hour limo shuttle ride to close to 3 hours. Once Takeshi and I got to our hotel we made a run for some beef bowl, ran back to the room to tape the video segment they ran on On the Spot, checked in with a friend that was helping us out with our PS3 adventure and then passed out.
Thursday morning we made a run to Akihabara to shoot some stuff and get a feel for where the best place to camp out for our PS3 was going to be. I'd been ready to start lining up by 2 or 3 in the afternoon but a lot of the stores we intended on pitching a tent by were discouraging folks from lining up- mostly due to the fact that most stores weren't expected to get many units. Finally checked in with our buddy Henry who popped over and joined us as we merged into the conspicuously line-like clump of loiterers standing in front of the Yodabashi Camera watching PS3 trailers. Later in the evening around 8:00 Yodabashi employess busted out some bullhorns and announced that if people didn't disperse they wouldn't be able to sell units in the morning. So we all dispersed, like 10 feet and just all spread out, sort of like that final scene in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds". Once bullhorn guy left everyone edged in again. I tapped out and left Takeshi in line while Henry and I made the rounds to other local stores to doublecheck all our options. Our backup plan was to try one of the launch day raffles happening in several stores on the morning of the 11th. In order to be eligible I had to go sign up for point cards at a few stores. When that was sorted I traded spots with Takeshi so he could go sign up too and wedged myself in to the crowd right in front of the PS3 monitors running trailers for games and an interactive kiosk that let you play Devil May Cry, Gran Turismo and Ridge Racer. We expected it to be mellow until after the store closed at 10 pm since employees and the local cops made it clear they weren't allowing lines until after the store closed.
Things didn't quite turn out that way.
So there I am wedged between tons of people watching the Afrika trailer yet again. I heard someone start talking loud, I recognized the word "line" (my Japanese aint what it used to be) and then the world kind of exploded. People ran away from the store and towards a guy holding a PS3 sign up the street, the start of the official line. I was ready to join the "running of the nerd" herd but one of the runners in front of me fell so I stopped so's not to stomp him and wound up getting shoved from behind and going down for a bit. I got a little stomped trying to get back up cos rather than step over someone on the ground mofos acted like they were playing DDR with me as the pad (ow! ow! ow!) Eventually I did get back up and found myself in a big honkin line. It seemed uncomfortably far from the store so I was a little worried that my getting mashed by tomorrow's DDR champions had cost me a good place in line. When Takeshi and Henry got back a while later they were a little taken aback by my new location considering how primo the spot in front of the monitors was but what're you gonna do? I tapped out with Takeshi a little later so I could nurse my wounds. I went back about 1 am and parked it in our spot on the sidewalk. Takeshi headed on out to work on editing video leaving me to have all kinds of fun sitting on the ground until 7am praying that it wouldn't rain.
The wait wasn't so bad thanks to the magic of the DS and PSP although, in retrospect, something soft to sit on wouldn't have been bad. The vibe was a little weird. Though there were plenty of Japanese folk and foreigners who were genuinely excited for the system. There was also a different crowd there namely scalpers and their minions. Amidst all the regular folk it wasn't too hard to spot people who were there with the intention of grabbing a unit to either eBay or turn over to someone who was paying them to stand in line.
Takeshi returned around 6 am because we'd heard Ken Kutaragi was going to make an appearance. It made sense since he'd been on hand 2 years ago to sell the first PSP so Takeshi wanted to be around in case he made a return. As it happened he didn't show up to sell the first one although we did catch sight of Phil Harrison, who put in a brief appearance before heading out to make his rounds. When 7am rolled around the store opened and started selling units. Of course since I was #449 it's not like I had to move for a while. While I waited for my turn to go by the line started shuffling forward… and it started to rain buckets. Henry got me an umbrella from a nearby convenience store and also got Takeshi a poncho since he was still trying to film stuff.
I finally got into the store at around 8:45am and got to stand in yet another line that weaved through the aisles. As I waited for my turn I was slowly driven insane by a trailer for Kirby Squeak Squad on DS which looped the 20 second tune over and over. 9:15 I got I finally got to a register. I got a 60gig, the five launch titles, and a handful of Sixaxis controllers, turns out they were sold out of the memory card adapter. Thankfully Henry offered to pick one up on his run through Akihabara to assess launch aftermath for a news story. With our PS3 in hand Takeshi and I made our way to our hotel to check it out. We got a bonus on our way out when we got handed a FROM SOFTWARE HD Visual Preview Disc, fancy name for a disc containing Amrored Core 4 and Enchant Arms PS3 trailers.
First thing we did was update the firmware and then start to poke around with the games, Genji, Resistance, Ridge, Gundam, and Sega Golf Club. Three of them, Resistance, Ridge, and Gundam, offered English language options while Genji and Sega Golf Club were all Japapnese all the time. The downside to our experience was that all we had to work with was a standard def TV and the simple RCA cables that come with the PS3- not an ideal set up. For what it's worth everything looked good enough on the TV. Web browsing was a bit of a chore due to the cell phone style text input but most pages loaded up fine although flash proved to be a problem depending on the site. Once that was done I passed out on the floor for a bit.
Follow Up From Home:
Rest of the trip is fuzzy but I remember packing, hitting up some UFO Catchers for souvenirs for the gang back home, responding to a PM from Sethfrost, dropping stuff off at work, seeing Greg and Ryan Davis who were there reviewing stuff, doing some email and then heading home. Also I seem to recall meeting a dude named Steve (I think) on the BART ride home who asked for my autograph. I stumbled home and passed out. Insane? Yes. But also oddly fun. End of the day console launches don’t happen that often and it's always a unique experience. Granted this one may have felt a little low key because of the quantities in stores but it's still the start of a new set of boxes to play on so it was worth the madness and stomping.
Next up PS3 and Wii US launches. O_0
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