Origen - Can it get even better?

During our excursion in LA and Zero Hour, we were informed that XBOX 360 with good supply of accessories and games would be delivered to Origen winners on 2nd of December (the launch date in Europe). I kept my cool there, as I kind of knew already we would get the 360).
The story just got boosted (and I started losing my coolness)! There is a story in xbox.com 'xbox news' section (at least on European mirrors) about Origen and Zero hour and the article ends with this:
"We surprised them with vouchers for their own Xbox 360 and all the kit you could want to build the ultimate gamer den, including a high-definition television. "

HDTV! If this is true, my already anxious wait of two days will feel like two weeks :)
You can find the whole story here. There's also nice video about the opening of Zero Hour that I hadn't seen before.


Origen - Highlights

Here are some highlights of the whole Origen trip and the Zero Hour event:
  • The Santa Ana winds (lovely weather to visit LA)
  • Stretched Hummer Limousines
  • Drinking both bottles of champagne in the limo on the way to Hotel, and finding out us only should've opened one.
  • Hearing about the one above for the rest of the trip :)
  • Seeing Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s ex-mailbox
  • Everyone taking a picture of the XBOX 360 billboard ad while sightseeing (our bus happened to stop at red light there)
  • Lost in translation jokes involving British vs. American English
  • Private Jets
  • The anticipation beforehand and finally the excitement when the hangar doors pulled apart
  • VIP Areas at the Event
  • Drinking a chilled beer at 1AM (the desert night wasn't much warmer than the beer)
  • The Origen spirit of togetherness
  • The staff of our trip (thank you all!)
  • All the above and more, making this a journey I will never forget

Edited: Check out what the Origen Winners thought about Zero Hour and XBox 360 directly from msxbox-world!

(Note: I'll possibly post some pictures later, and also add links to the story.)

Origen - Day 5

Tuesday 22.11.

My flight back leaves at 20:45, so I spend some time shopping around Santa Monica and visiting the beach again. The last day is mostly waiting and giving goodbyes to the others. At the evening we make one more limo trip and head to the airport. It's time to go home.

Goodbye LA!

Welcome the two week wait for my XBox 360 to arrive at home :)

Origen - Day 4

Monday 21.11.

I got a short rest at the hotel from 2am to 7:30am. There was an hourly coach connection between the hotel and the event location, so heading back to the hotel and back was easy.

Welcome Sign at Zero Hour

There's a plenty of coverage of the event itself online, so I don't go into depths here (and actually I don't remember many specifics, as I was mostly playing). If you like, check out xbox.com, or the msxbox-world and official XBox magazine coverage.

The best main stage event for me, were the Oblivion Demo (the game I'm waiting for the most) and Gears of War (the game I'm probably waiting for the second most) - although I did miss the Frag Dolls on stage during as I went back to the hotel to get some beer with out free coupons..

I didn't play all the games at the event, and I didn't play any one game very much (as I was planning to do so at home). I played PGR3, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, King Kong, Perfect Dark Zero, Kameo, Condemned, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved and Ridge Racer 6. (You can check which I liked the most from the previous posts with the top lists)

Zero Hour Hangar Interior

When it's close to midnight, we head out and make it to the bus, which takes us back (after grabbing our bags from Oxford hotel) to Los Angeles, Santa Monica and our Viceroy hotel. There's a solid snoozy atmosphere in the bus on the way back as everyone is very, very tired and sleeps it off. At the hotel, we head to our rooms and get some well reserved sleep.

Origen - Day 3

Sunday 20.11

The Zero Hour event will start today! I sleep till 10 or so and miss the "free" breakfast, so I shrug the slight hangover and get a heavy breakfast, with bacon, eggs & sausages eggs, to get things rolling. We're set to go at 1pm, so I get some rest after the breakfast (I'm going to need it)
There's a crew from G4 Videogame TV making a short document about the journey of the European winners journey to Zero Hour. Some of the winners are interviewed, but not me. I recommend you to check the humorous video from G4 website if you haven't already, and there is also other coverage of the event and Xbox 360 stuff at the site.

At 1pm we gather up, and after short info of things to come, we're good to go (well, after 45 minutes of more waiting :) We get into our limos again, and make it to Santa Monica airport, where three private jets are waiting to take us to Palmdale.

Private Jets at Santa Monica Airport

The flight is a short and pleasant, but gives excellent views over sunny LA. At Palmdale we get back into some more limos and head to the Oxford Inn hotel. When we arrive the other Zero Hour goers (including the hex168 winners) have gathered up to see which celebrities are coming in the limos. For their disappointment and for our amusement: "It's the Origen winners!" :) Check in to the hotel goes smoothly, and we head to our rooms to prepare for the event (only couple of hours to go). Props for our Norwegian winner for getting the room 360!

Coming to Zero Hour

Once again, we gather up, get into our oh-so-luxurious and stretched Hummers and head towards Plant 42. Origen will soon be revealed to us (anticipation and excitement takes over people, including me). Near the location, I spot the green lights on the two hangars and make a mental note to not go ballistic but make it cool :)

Security check at Zero Hour

The event is set to start at 7pm, and we arrive to our private, VIP back entrance well before that. The security is tight, but our 50 or so get through the gates relatively fast. We are given the Zero Hour hooded tops and XBox 360 48Mb memory units (where ones gamertag could be migrated to record the achievements during the event). There were also unique gamertag pictures given to players just at this event, so that's also great.

It's close to 7 now, and the drums go off. XBox and Hex168 pictures are projected to the hangar walls and finally the Origen Tree shows up, followed by XBox 360 logo. Peter Moore and J Allard pump up the crowd and after the short speech they shout out (drums going): "Welcome to XBOX 360!".

Peter Moore & J Allard were happy after the opening

The doors start to open - for a short moment, a beam of green light between the huge doors makes the whole thing look awesome. The hangar doors pull apart revealing the interior of the hangar and the huge XBOX 360 banner hanging at the front announcing the XBox slogan "Join in". (There is a video of the opening in msxbox-world if you want to see this yourself)

Welcome to Zero Hour!

Most rush in as soon as they're allowed, but our Origen crew takes it easy (after all, there's two dedicated VIP areas for us (and hex winners + staff members).

Zero Hour Main Hangar Panorama

The hangar is huge, there's hundreds of 360s spread around the area, Origen tree with chill-out zone around it, big main stage at the back and the whole place is lit up with "Xbox green" lights to set the mood right. I zoom around the area, taking some pictures, before heading to check out one of the VIP areas. There are plenty of snacks, water and soda available at all times, comfy sofas and more than plenty of XBox 360s ready to go. There are bigger TVs and better sound systems set for 10 or so 360s per VIP area, so we get bit more out of the games than the others at the event (not that the games would look bad in small HDTV’s). (There is a video of the interior in msxbox-world with other coverage as well)

The Origen Tree at Zero Hour

If I remember correctly, I start the 29 hour event by checking out Project Gotham Racing 3, and yes, it looks so damn beautiful as all the screenshots and hype promised. And the game play is no worse. As first impressions, the 360 controller is very good; it fits right into hands, its very light and the new shoulder buttons replacing for the white and black buttons of the old Xbox controller are excellent. For the event, the controllers were not wireless (for obvious reasons), but at least the wired one met my expectations and even topped them.

Origen - Day 2

Saturday 19.11

Fruits, cereal and coffee (lots of it) gets me going, and I spend some time relaxing by the pool (still a bit confused by the fact that I'm in LA, I decide to drink one beer just to celebrate the lovely morning :)

Santa Monica Pier

I check the beach and get something to eat from Burger King at the Santa Monica Mall with others and most of us get into sightseeing tour at 1pm. We go check Venice Beach, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood sign, Hollywood boulevard and all the nice places one "must see" while in LA. After a short rest, the winners gather to cocktail party by the pool and the rest of the evening goes by chatting, drinking, smoking and eating (all-in-all, very nice party).

Chinese Theater, Hollywoord Blvd

Origen - Day 1

Friday 18.11

After 20+ hours of traveling and about 16 hours of sitting in a plane, I arrive in LA. There's a nice XBox representative with Origen sign waiting for me and the others arriving at the same time. I'm the first who got through immigration/passport control, so I wait for a bit... At this point my internal clock is at 1am, so I'm a bit tired. After the short wait, I put the tiredness aside as the stretched Hummer arrives to take us to the hotel.

We empty the champagne (two bottles) on the way and get to the Viceroy hotel after a pleasant 40 minute or so ride. I check in the hotel, and get a warm welcome from the XBox crew member. After receiving my survival kit of caffeinated goodies and info about the upcoming event, I get some sleep before meeting the other winners and the rest of the staff.

Origen info and Zero Hour Survival Kit

The whole evening goes quickly chatting to others, drinking some beverages and finally hitting back to the room for some desperately needed sleep (somewhere between 10-11pm local time, so well in the morning in Finland at that point)

Los Angeles View

Jet lag makes me sleep well, but also knocks me out of it at 5am or so... I spent the early hours watching quality TV, including Rocky 2 :)


Origen - Zero Hour TOP Lists

Zero Hour TOP5 Games:
(1) Condemned: Criminal Origins
(2) PGR3
(3) Geometry Wars: Evolved (XBox Live Arcade game)
(4) Need for Speed: Most Wanted
(5) King Kong

I didn't play games like Gun, Dead or Alive 4, Quake 4, Call of Duty 2, any of the "EA Sports" games, and many others, so the top list above is nothing but a quick impressions about the games I played.

You might notice Perfect Dark Zero or Kameo are not in my "top" list. I think both are really good games, but I didn't spend that much time playing these two, as I'm planning to do so at home and also getting a** whooped for two hours in PD0 multiplayer matches wasn't a pleasant feeling :)

Other games I played (to extent worth mentioning):

Perfect Dark Zero
Kameo: Elements of Power
Ridge Racer 6

Zero Hour TOP4 Main Event Moments:
(1) The Opening of the Event
(2) Oblivion Demo
(3) Gears of War Demo
(4) XBOX 360 Launch

Zero Hour TOP1 Disappointments:
(1) I missed to see Frag Dolls :( *sniff*


Origen - XBox Zero Hour

I was one of the lucky European (Origen) winners who won a trip to LA and to XBox Zero Hour, also known as Origen. I'll be posting some info about the event here, at least in a form of links to interesting stuff online now that the event is in the past and XBox 360 is available to everyone in US (and for us in Europe as well in just couple of weeks)...