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Intel were the main sponsors of this show, and it shows. (excuse the poor pun) Their names were on the badges, and on all the ads. Their stand was huge, and at the very front as you walked into the show. They had about a dozen PCs running games which were 'enhanced for Pentium III'. What exactly the difference was really wasn't explained, but we've come to expect that from Intel. Basically, we've got to believe them that it's just better. They didn't mention anything about the fact that they can't make enough of them to keep up with demand, and that many of the major PC manufacturers have moved over to AMD.

They also had a slightly more interesting stand, which was a model of the house of the future. There was a mock-up of a kitchen, and bedroom, and a living room, each with new Intel product to show you how much better you could live your life. (only if you're a gadget freak though) The unreleased Sonic Box is a small portable radio allows you to listen to internet radio all over your house, as long as your PC is online somewhere else in the house to connect to the 'net. I think this one will have to wait until we have broadband before it becomes commonplace.

One of Intel's demo thingies

Intel's microscope for kids

They were also showing other products, such as their microscope for kids. This is a really nice product. It's basically a 100x microscope with a CCD which allows you to watch the image on your PC in real-time. It's the sort of thing that previously has been confined to research labs, and it's now at a suitable price range to buy for the home! I'm sure that schools will find this very useful.

Well positioned next to the press office on the gallery level were nVidia. They had quite a small stand, but it was definitely worth visiting. They were showing off some demos of the capabilities of their GeForce 2 Ultra card, and they looked amazing. They had one featuring a fly-by through a jungle and some dinosaurs, and the leaves on the trees were rendered using individual polygons. This brought the polygon count up to something like 100,000 for the scene, which was zipping along at a good frame rate. It was interesting to see that nVidia were heavily pushing AMD's Athlon processor over Intel's Pentium III. An advertising deal perhaps? At 3dfx's stand, the same aliegence towards AMD was evident. Maybe the giant Intel is about to fall? It certainly looks possible.

Ben Hur 2000? Japanese of course.

nVidia's GeForce 2 Ultra demo. You can start drooling now.

There were also the obligatory strange Japanese games. One of the strangest was Ben Hur 2000, a chariot racing game. Yes, you did read that last bit correctly! The player must get onto a plastic chariot, and take hold of the reigns. Whipping them wildly around makes your horses run. Watching people play this is probably the best thing about it. The dancing games which started off with Dance Dance Revolution also were being demoed at the show. One company had a version which didn't require a console or PC, and just plugged straight into your TV set. Disney were also showing their dancing game off, which had you dancing around to classic Disney songs. Anyone up for a go on Bare Necessities?

I also approached eGames, an American publisher, to see if they would be interested in publishing Marble Crazy. I talked to the UK Marketing Manager and he seemed very interested, and took my details. Who knows, Marble Crazy could soon make it into the shops as a commercial product! Strange things do happen.

The eGames stand

Fire Games showing off their WAP products

Strangely enough, WAP products (Wireless Applications Protocol) were very thin on the ground at the show. This emerging technology is starting to be regarded as an over-hyped flop, mainly due to the slow speed of the mobile phone network. There are still people developing for it though. Fire Games were showing several WAP games which were pretty impressive considering the limitations of the technology.

Overall I had a great day, and I recommend anyone to go next year if you get the chance. It's a great way to get to know the industry, and also an impressively unique spectacle.

Here's links to some of the companies I've mentioned in this report:

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The show from the gallery

Olympia from the outside