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Monthly Archives: October 2007

Into the spirit

Over on the VP forums we’re running a little competition to carve pinata themed pumpkins. The contest isn’t exactly awash with entries at the moment so Ali and I did our bit last night with one of Morrison’s finest.

Prof Pester by night

That was my Professor Pester in vegetable form and this is Ali’s Cowthulhu, from Munchkin Cthulhu.

Moooooooooooo

 Not strictly VP related but I suppose it is based on a cow; a multidimensional, betentacled, deranged cow, true, but close.

20k

When the Xbox 360 first launched it came with the new exciting feature of Gamerscore; a figure attached to games that would supposedly tell people how great you were at games. The higher the score, the better you were… supposedly.

This suprisingly simply concept has since spawned an addiction, and indeed a terminology, that of the Gamerscore-whore.

This man must have no job.

I was one of those originally. The rewarding concept of getting a little badge to say you’d achieved something in-game combined with a counter of your own that would continually tick up was too much to resist. It took me roughly six months to get my first 10k, abusing most of the opening lineup.

Since then, it’s taken me almost three times as long to get me second 10k, as I hit the big 20,000 in the last couple of days. I’ve chilled off a lot, mainly because I realised how pointless the points actually were. Games were being played just as much for points as for fun *cough* King Kong *cough* which just isn’t right.

The sight of getting the “Achievement Unlocked” message flash up at the bottom of your screen is still exciting, though, and with titles that I really do like I will try and “complete” them by getting their full compliment but for me, now, these awards are just another way to explore the game. I’d much rather be faced with an achievement list that takes me off the beaten path and promotes experimentation and exploration rather than simply being handed them linearly.

Evidence

I’ve finally managed to find some pictures of the Freeplay Lounge.

 These were taken by one of the MS chaps that were down there helping us, but as promised…

 There goes our E rating.

There goes our E rating.

Freeplay Lounge

Usually in the Bluu Bar in Nottingham on a Thursday night you will find Burlesque dancers; a troupe of provocatively dressed women there to entertain the businessmen of Robin Hood’s native city. So imagine the disappointment of the regulars when they rolled up and found their bar full of geeks playing video games. Not quite as titillating.

It was an interesting juxtaposition, as people played Viva Pinata beneath an illuminated poster of a woman’s slapped backside, but Microsoft and Rare had truly invaded Bluu Bar’s basement this week and had turned it into a gaming paradise dubbed Freeplay Lounge, part of GameCity 2007.

The aim of the evening was to create a relaxed atmosphere where all attending could circulate, try different things and generally talk about their shared love of the industry – whether that be trying to break in or trying to break out. A bit of shameless self promotion doesn’t go amiss, either.

Open to anyone attending GameCity, we had students, delegates, organisers and press drop by to see what was going on. A free bar helped attract in the sceptical and the addition of the Frag Dolls sealed the deal for a few.

The event poster

It seemed that an army of students had descended, some from far a field as Wales, and it was interesting chatting to them all about the different course on offer and answering any questions they had when it came to actually working in the industry.

360 kiosks were littered throughout the bar, showing off MGS’s titles and allowing us to run a few competitions throughout the evening. Time trials on Forza 2 and a high score Kameo battle were appreciated but the highlights were the Perfect Dark Zero and Halo multiplayer tournaments. The latter, especially, caused whoops and hollers from the crowd as the evening built up to a tense one-on-one decided as to who took home a limited edition Xbox.

For the first event of its kind that we’ve put on, I think it went well; it was very well attended and the atmosphere was good throughout. The one negative is that considering we were there to be talked to, there was no way of distinguishing the Rare staff from any of the other attendees but this is a minor point and something we can address next year when we hopefully return to abuse the promotional account once more.

Spurned

What happened to Martin Jol can only be described as disgraceful. The way the board treated one of my favourite managers in a long time, and trust me we’ve had a few during my lifetime, beggars belief.

How any manager, in any job, could be told less than a month into the season he’s effectively going to be sacked imminently and then asked to carry on as if nothing has happened is ridiculous. As soon as the board gave him “six games to save his job” the the writing on the wall.

Can I just point out that this is the man who took us into Europe two seasons in a row through the league. He is the first Spurs manager ever to do that and in his other season he was only one win off doing it for a third time. Hardly a shabby record.

I wish you well, Martin. You did us proud.

Part of the problem at White Hart Lane is we are trying to run a continental system of coaches, managers, scouts and sporting directors but end up just undermining all those whose necks are on the line. Santini spotted this early and exited and now Jol, lumped with strikers that he didn’t want, has also paid the price.

When someone else is buying players for you, as our directors do for the manager, it can only spell trouble. For the past 18 months Jol had been asking for a left sided midfielder, a position we have lacked severely in, only to be handed Darren Bent. As highly rated as he is, he was over priced and pushed into a squad where we already have too many strikers that has already caused huge friction in the past.

As push comes to shove, we need stability. Far too many of the Premiership boardrooms are filled with impatient suits that want instant success. The chairmen need to look at Man Utd and Arsenal to see that stability brings success and understand that the managerial merry-go-round is not the silver bullet they constantly seek.

If you were Ramos, would you take the job given this?

BARFTA

After praising Okami on Friday, that white mutt has gone and done one over on Viva Pinata as it beat us to both of our nominated awards at last night’s BAFTAs. VP was recognised in both Artistic Achievement and Original Score categories but Capcom’s cell-shaded adventure swept us away.

This is not a time for disappointment, however, as I do think that once again it is an honour and a privilege to be shortlisted for such an award.

The inevitable giant costumes that look nothing like the characters they represent.

As with most awards shows, though, the ceremony itself seems to be just there as a centrepiece for a very large party that happens either side of (and, in fact, during) proceedings. Several of our team went down last night for the show and several of them have come back very worse for wear. 

Away from the drunkards who inhabit Manor Park, it’s worth noting that the Dare to be Digital games were once again showcased with Voodoo Boogy picking up a “Ones to Watch” BAFTA for Ragnarawk. Many congratulations to them and indeed all those who made the final cut.

So close

Over the weekend, the Brits let two world titles slip through their grasp. To tell you the truth, though, I don’t think anyone can be disappointed with either; given the state of English rugby this year or the fact that Hamilton was an unknown rookie I’m sure both would have snapped your hand off for those results 12 months ago.

I’m slightly more gutted for Hamilton who did have chances to sow up the championship during the last two races but I think his career will go better for not being the first rookie winner of the title, the pressure would be phenomenal.

As for the rugby team, they did the nation proud. On the end of a 36-0 hammering against the same opposition just over a month ago, they can stand tall and proud with Saturday’s result.

Okamii

Finally, someone at Capcom has seen sense and Okami is coming to the Wii!

This super stylised game has taken several game of the year awards already and revolves around a white canine (dog? wolf? I can’t tell) whose action are controlled by paintbrush motions across the screen. I was never tempted to get it on the PS2 as I have never really liked using the PS2’s analogue sticks, but that is purely down to personal preference and the Wii-mote will be a far more intuitive input.

Woof.

My Wii has been growing stale recently, even the release of Metroid hasn’t inspired me to dust off the shiny white box. With Halo and Orange Box I don’t know if I want another shooter but deep down I know I should play it.

Deep down I also know that Mario will probably be the turning point, and once that portly plumber re-emerges my “new gen” machine should start getting a lot more use.

…said an official Rare spokesperson

Following my excitement at last week’s publication of my Comic Con interview, it appears as though some very select pieces of information have been plucked out and given a quick spin.

This is actually my own washing machine.

Still, what’s done is done and you have to respect MS’s advertising department for taking on the task as VP wasn’t exactly the easiest thing to describe or pitch, let alone flog to the world. We have sold over half-a-million, though, which can’t be sniffed at, and as Christmas and a Classics relaunch approaches it can only get better.

“They repeatedly stamped on my childhood”

Last week, some of you may recall that I was rather excited about seeing the new Transformers movie. I had originally missed its release into the UK and so was pleasantly surprised when the IMAX did a special run to coincide with the Birmingham International Comic Show.

The show was good and did little to prepare me for the horror I was about to bear witness too, however.

This man has a lot to answer for.

For the following 158 minutes I was left reeling as Michael Bay et al took one of the finest memories of my childhood and unceremoniously jumped up and down on it, in gold shoes, until there was nothing good and pure left.

Why on earth did he introduce a Ja Ja Binks-esque Decepticon computer hacker that made me want to ring someone’s neck? What the hell was up with the Autobots playing hide and seek round the house like prepubescent morons? Who the hells wants a love story when the whole movie is supposed to be about large, kick-ass robots? Had the writer ever seen a transformer before in his life and which orifice did the All Spark storyline get pulled from? And on what planet does Optimus Prime say “my bad”? No, just no!!!

There were so many things wrong with this I can only describe it as an abortion.

I weep everytime I see his face.

Out of the entire wreckage I can pick out three things that I could at least describe that I “like”. First up, the visuals were top notch. As soon as Optimus Prime transformed for the first time I was grinning like a mad man. The half-an hour fight scene at the end, too, was exceptionally well visualised.

Secondly, the IMAX. Admittedly, this wasn’t anything to do with the movie itself but that cinema is gorgeous, especially for something as graphically showy as Transformers.

The last I really shouldn’t put; Ali has now started reading my blog.