So here it is, Merry Christmas, everybody's having four pints at lunchtime then trying not to be sick while racing round Poundland in search of a last minute Secret Santa present for someone about whom they know nothing except name and gender. And at least one of those is in doubt. Ho ho ho!
A group of late-thirties men are gathered around the Trials booth at Ubisoft's Digital Days event in Paris, and they're all talking about the same thing. They're all talking about playing Trials, of course, but more specifically, they're talking about playing Trials with their kids. Young children love RedLynx's stunt gauntlet as much as grown-up children, by the sounds of it. Even Antti Ilvessuo, RedLynx's head honcho, admits he plays with his three-year-old - Ilvessuo junior working the gas while Ilvessuo senior controls the balance.
It's not surprising to see where the love comes from: Trials remains a wonderful interactive museum of head injuries and spinal fractures, and there's nobody on earth who's too old, or too refined, to not enjoy the sight of an extreme sports type spinning through the air arms flailing before relaxing, indelicately, into the brittle embrace of a nearby tree. RedLynx is currently hard at work with a selection of other Ubisoft studios bringing both Trials HD and Trials Evolution to the PC in the form of Trials Evolution: Gold Edition, and while the team's promising a package that's optimised and spruced up for its return to its home platform, it's also found the time to create new DLC for the 360 crowd. Face-planting on a concrete pipe must seem like a sweet release after that kind of workload.
The new DLC's called Origin of Pain, and it offers a whole tropical island to screw around on. The island's 4km by 4km, making it fairly massive by Evolution standards, and its 36 new single-player tracks - along with additional skill games and tournament stuff - are set amongst a surprisingly wide range of backdrops, from smoggy city centres to Shinto shrines, pirate bays, and even the odd circus pitch.
In an age of cross-platform development, console exclusives are somewhat thin on the ground, and especially so on Xbox 360, where Microsoft has scaled back first-party studios, occasionally paring back on in-house engine development in favour of third-party middleware - so much so that the next Fable title is running on Unreal Engine.
Just over two and a half years ago, RedLynx released Trials HD on Xbox Live Arcade. Not only was it a brilliant game, it was a rare example of a 360 exclusive designed from the ground up to make the most of the console's unique architecture. Lead programmer Sebastian Aaltonen, one of the most gifted engine coders working on the Xbox platform, helped to define a game that was not only rampantly playable but also looked quite unlike anything else on the console: beautiful physics combined with pixel-perfect dynamic lighting, shadowing and material effects to produce a game that remains an stunning technical achievement to this day.
You can't really say that the games industry has downtime any more, but there are a few months of the year - months like this one - when the high-profile boxed releases dry up and the traditional publishers and distributors take a breather before winding up for a crack at the next financial quarter. We used to call these spells "droughts", but frankly, the modern games industry makes a mockery of that term.
Ready your accusations of bias, because this week's Eurogamer.net podcast is a bit of an Xbox-fest - by accident, not design, we promise. That's if three awesome 360 sort-of-exclusives releasing in the space of six days is an accident! (It probably is.)
My head is spinning. RedLynx has built upon Trials Evolution's predecessors so comprehensively that it's now scraping the heavens. Trials has been expanded in every way possible - local multiplayer joins online multiplayer joins an extensive reworking of leaderboards - and it will continue to expand well after it's finally released, its creation mode promising to churn out more and more content until the servers are switched off.
My palms are sweating. Trials has always set the heart racing, stretching your nerves out across a series of impossible inclines and falls, but Evolution adds a new level of suspense. Tracks can be hung in the skies, a generous draw distance letting you see every inch of the drop that awaits those with a clumsy throttle finger.
And I can't stop laughing. Trials always had a keen sense of slapstick, and now it's taken centre stage. It's a novel way of sweetening the thousand failures that underpin any extended game of Trials; fall off your bike, and the ragdoll rider will bounce limply across the scenery.
A pre-presentation video isn't usually the most exciting part of a game preview, but after that achingly brief teaser from E3 that offered only a sun-blushed glance at the new Trials, all eyes were on the big-screen.