A big date in the European gamer's calendar is the European Con-
sumer Trade Show (ECTS) in London. It's a time for 16-year old boys to polish up their fake IDs, dust off the letters confirming their internship at a large game publisher (printed earlier in the week on letterhead paper sold at exorbitant rates by some enterprising individual), and steal their older sister's eyeliner to provide the beard-fluff on their faces with a bit of added support - so they can try to sneak into the show.
By all reports ECTS is like a poor cousin to the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in the U.S., and while that's perhaps being a bit uncharitable, both Sony and Nintendo chose not to attend the show this year - indeed, Nintendo decided to hold its own event at another venue.
I was attending in the hope of seeing some inkling of the Java gaming industry that I'm sure is just around the corner. In terms of the mainstream industry, perhaps I'm becoming jaded as I get older, but I didn't see a hell of a lot of originality there. Sure, there were some interesting-looking 3D Massive Multiplayer Role Playing Games (MMRPGs) with graphics that, at times, defied belief, but there were also the 2D strategy games, the occasional platformer, the FPS shooter; games that didn't add anything new to their respective genres.
Not to tar the entire industry with the same brush, but in these cases, at the very least maybe a technological paradigm shift might inject some much-needed creativity into the products. In a number of cases I didn't see anything that couldn't have been done in Java - which made me wonder why they hadn't been...?
On the embedded front, there was very little at ECTS to interest a Java developer.
The first of two exceptions was FUNCOM (www.funcom.com),
which had an application to convert and transfer any photos from a PC to a mobile
phone. The site was completely Java-driven, and a Java applet was used to manipulate
the picture (changing the optimization and dithering, etc.) before sending it
from the server using reverse-billing SMS. The only problem I noted with their
application was that there didn't seem to be a way to make a less-than-photogenic
developer look good when his photo was sent to the mobile. Sigh...
The other exception was a Korean-based company called Com2uS (www.com2us.com/www.phonegame.net),
which develops games for a number of mobile platforms including J2ME (KVM),
Game Virtual Machine (GVM by Sinjisoft), WAP, and BREW. Their games include
arcade, puzzle, board, and casino genres, as well as role-playing. At the company's
booth were a number of color mobile phones. Unfortunately, the woman from Com2uS
was rather too attentive, otherwise their display might have wound up lacking
a few devices...and half of their software catalog.
Com2uS is apparently one of the founding members of the Java Wireless Developers Council for Sun and a consultant to LG Telecom's EZ-Java program. In any case not only are the phones impressive to look at, but the games look brilliant.
So, apart from the aforementioned companies, not altogether a positive showing for Java at the show - at least from my point of view. Perhaps you were there as well? Maybe you noticed other Java and/or mobile Java games on display that I missed? Let me know...unless, of course, you were one of the large group of males reexperiencing their adolescence as they clustered around three bikini-clad models at a booth promoting an erotic game of some sort (of course I noticed...what am I, blind??). In which case, don't bother. You've probably fried a few too many brain cells to remember much else about the show.
Jason Briggs works as a Java analyst programmer in London. He's been officially developing in
Java for three years - unofficially for just over four.