Category Archives: Videogame Events

Videogame related events, conferences, expos etc.

GameCity 2010: A Report

Lego, of course always present
Lego, of course always present

GameCity 2010 was a while back; 27th to the 30th of October. This is a late report, with all the pedantry of trying to remember things from it that are worth reporting on!

Talks, Panels and Notes

Firstly, I have done some rather lengthy notes this year. This comes from doing them on my laptop at the time; so there are quite possibly errors and it isn’t a word for word account πŸ™‚ In any case, I’ll link to the relevant ones as I go through what was fun and so forth. I didn’t get to everything though, and I can’t point to a “Calendar of events” on the GameCity website (which was at ) since it has now disappeared.

Before the Event

GameCity was generally well run and fun this year. There was no horrible Gatecrasher venues, there was most of the events up in advance of the week, although knowing about things more then a few weeks in advance is something they need to strive for πŸ™‚ On one hand I was discussing this with someone and having less people coming keeps it more low-key and more a Nottingham feel, but I opposed this and say if I want friends to come I need to show it’s worth booking travel tickets, holiday time (they have jobs!) and hotels in advance. In any case I hadn’t the nerve to get anyone outside of Nottingham to come up, more the shame to me really – some would have enjoyed it πŸ™‚

One oddity: you could “favourite” events which seemed to put you on a list for events. Stewards were weird, so I booked everything on the first day once I got almost turned away from something. I heard some people got turned away in spite of the rooms not nearly being full too…must try harder! either first come first serve, OR pay for tickets, not a bad mix of both. πŸ™

The Tent!

The bomb with David!
The bomb with David!

The tent was good; I never bothered with the EA side, each to his own but exercise can’t be thrown at me like that (with the full set of crass marketing too. I suppose it’s all sponsorship money though). The other side was cramped but good enough – Crysis was well laid out at the side for instance, and the projector games generally were far enough at the back to not get in the way. The other odd thing was not enough chairs and tables, especially for Gambling Lambs! It meant a lot of standing around, and put me off staying there for very long, a shame really. However what went on there was fine even if I didn’t bother with Saturday’s Mario stuff, since I wanted more indie games dammit! πŸ™‚

Oh, and on Gambling Lambs – it was great, got to play Dixit, which is a game where you have to describe a scene in a generic storytelling fashion but not be too accurate; it’s great to play a second time once you work out actually what to do. There were other games to be had too – and David Hayward put on a brilliant Laser Trap Scene Test at Lee Rosy’s, as in any good spy flick needing lots of smoke to see lasers to disarm the bomb! I did it successfully, and was very fun! πŸ™‚

Shame there was no Kinect or Move playable demos. I have no clue what Microsoft and Sony are doing here (apart from Sony apparently hates GameCity) I just don’t know how you can get people to buy such interactive things without being able to try them. There was the Kinect talk, which was okay, but didn’t exactly let me try it πŸ˜‰

Development; the office space was too small originally - foreboding for UK living rooms? :)
Development; the office space was too small originally - foreboding for UK living rooms? πŸ™‚

Spy Party

Spy Party; the room
Spy Party; the room

A really standout game! I loved playing Chris Heckers Spy Party, I took notes from his talk, and am fully looking forward to the game itself.

To outline; it’s a deception and infiltration game, where you as a party guest have to mimic an NPC while performing certain tasks, while a sniper, a second player, tries to find out who you are and snipe them. As the base game mode, this is just brilliant fun in itself and I can see how it can be easily played online. Chris mentioned possible other modes, more players (multiple spies or snipers, working in teams even) and other changes; well worth looking out for. Gets the “Game of GameCity” award from me!

Jonathan Blow

Jonathan Blow had a double act; a nice sum up of Braid’s design, and his new game The Witness which looks interesting, but I hope doesn’t have too many tutorials; it could get annoying. Still, he’s someone you could rely on to really polish and make a very strong game, which is what I’m looking forward to.

The Witness: What are adventure games? What should they be?
The Witness: What are adventure games? What should they be?

Comedy and Music

OneLaughLeft - Simon Byron
OneLaughLeft - Simon Byron

There was an evening of Comedy by OneLifeLeft; the jokes were soemtimes groan worthy from the presenters, but still damn enjoyable and fun (although Ste sure is one who does very harsh critical humour!); they should think more highly of themselves for doing it. The comedians were a fine lot; some geeky stuff, some game related material, and one comedian who I’ve seen before at the Fringe (a shame; since I’ve heard some of his stuff before obviously). Well worth attending, had me in fits πŸ™‚ I’d give it 7 out of 10.

The Choir during the music of James Hannigan
The Choir during the music of James Hannigan

The music evening in the church was good pretty much because the composer James Hannigan did Red Alert 3’s main theme “Soviet March” – and it was done better live with the main part being sung by a woman then the theme in game! (I wish I could have recorded it!). The spy music from Evil Genius was good too – the rest, well, I’ll be frank and say that without them telling us what games they were from, which they didn’t, I had no clue if the tracks were Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or any number of other different orchestral soundtracks he’s done – a shame really, since some were pretty fun to listen to. There was only the Pinewood Singers in attendance; not a full orchestra, which worked well given it was a church.

Retro Remakes, History and Parks

A Reproductive System
A Reproductive System

Finally, there was a good panel on retro remakes, the only thing that could have improved it was explaining what a remake was and giving some examples then and there. Coupled to the old stuff side is a panel I attended on game preservation, which sadly lacked the major major problem now occurring: DRM. The British Library might want to get a copy of every game made, but it’ll be useless if the consoles and platforms they run on break isn’t it? πŸ™

Also an odd talk was done by Keita Takahashi who is designing a park for the nearby to me Woodthorpe Park; I’m looking forward to it, but I’ve no idea if any of the designs will actually be completed!

Takahashi LOVES the big catapult idea despite its flaws
Takahashi LOVES the big catapult idea despite its flaws


Panel on being Independant Game Developers
Panel on being Independant Game Developers

On the indie side was a good panel called “What’s the Point?“; a shame it was over lunch (like the preservation panel) since it was harder to take notes, but in essence it was good to hear the two sides to working, what indie is, about game jams and other things. I did get to play several indie games too – apart from Spy Party, there was Ben Bradly’s Substream, much improved from GameCityNights, and I talked to the creator of VVVVVV a bit too (and the musician too), who are both totally cool dudes. I aim to play more VVVVVV – now I’ve finished some other games πŸ™‚

Iain Simons doing his vision statement; shout it brother! Shout it loud!
Iain Simons doing his vision statement; shout it brother! Shout it loud!

The last thing really to note was the Vision Statement by Iain Simons – good points to note, he wants to do more GameCity and game stuff, but wants nothing to do with Sonys kind of marketing. It was a rather nice thing to see him explain about it and name some names, and I fully agree about many other things he went into detail – always needing the newest stuff, interactive entertainment and “now being mainstream”.

I missed several things however – the music of Limbo, an indie game producer from somewhere, and the morning panels at breakfast – I felt rather ill so got up late every day sadly – it wasn’t too convenient to get there, but sounded interesting.

So overall it was a lot more fun then last year in most places, although it felt more empty with much less to do at times, mainly due to scheduling no doubt. I say bring on next year with agusto, like I said, hopefully with some forewarning about what is going on before the month it is on πŸ™‚

Videogame Nation


The Urbis Gallery opened the Videogame Nation exhibit two weeks ago – I was invited by the curator, David Crookes, to go along. I meant to get up something about this before, but my camera died (these are it’s last pictures) when I broke it accidentally.

The exhibit is based around the UK videogame industry from past to present – there is enough for a good few hours, if not more, looking at the exhibits, playing the games on show, and reading the huge amount of information on a whole range of aspects – from playing to making videogames.

An entire bus stop, yep

I personally loved it – some great games on display (apart from the arcade cabinets all free to play), design documents and a varied amount of information on different magazines, publishers, developers and people. The games are presented in a variety of forms – including some nice football bench seating for Sensible Soccer, and a bus stop and bus seat backs for portable games (okay, that was more odd then great, hehe).

N64 lunchtimes!

I added a few things to the places you could write and draw – I’ve got pictures of my additions to the wall of consoles (sadly missing out several older consoles, but still allows you to pick one and put a comment up), and my Half Life “crowbar” cover, no doubt by now replaced but, well, a game which deserved a clean classic-like cover πŸ™‚ (it was also easier to draw then any of my other ideas! πŸ˜› ).

The Urbis at night
Half Life cover

There were also some great displays on the mini-controversies in the UK around videogames. For Manchester, the Manchester Cathedral sillyness, with Sony’s response printed in its full glory, in the 18 rated section (where, for some reason, Bully was situation despite not being rated 18…), as well as some on the value of fitness to do with videogames.

Never finished Oliver-twins material

However, the main thing that was great for me was the history side – there is a lot of information about pre-current-generation games, including ones not finished (Dizzy 2, as photographed to the right), the design of many UK titles – Lemmings, Sensible Soccer, Broken Sword (which I still need to play…), Jeff Minter classics, Oliver Twin games and things from the bedroom programming era – including Elite, and more. It is about the only UK exhibit of videogames on right now – so well worth a visit. Check my gallery of pictures to see some of the information boards and pictures of what was available to play – not at all comprehensive, I should have took more picture πŸ™‚

I am also going to try and get back for some of the Sunday-timetabled related events, some sound very interesting πŸ™‚ and if I go I’ll put down what they were like (especially since I’ve not been updating my site much!).

For more pictures I did find Negative Gamer to have some great pictures up, and David has a small Flickr set too πŸ™‚

GameCity Meeting – Connected Nottingham, National Videogame Archive and …Charades!

Groan. Seed analogy for a company who is in Biosience.

Last Thursday evening I was able to attend some Gamecity things – firstly, the Connected Nottingham set of talks, which were from companies involved in the initiative and stating what they’ve done and are doing. See my gallery for some shots of this, the most groan-worthy one was the seed analogy on the right. It does seem there are some good active projects, and some totally business buzzword ones too.

How Iain wanted everyone at GameCity to react

The most interesting one was Iain Simons putting forward his great plans for GameCity:

  • GameCity TV – Free, online, HD footage from the previous years and newly recorded footage.
  • OpenGameCity – An open platform for user generated content.
  • GameCitizens – A community site, feedback, forums and integration into existing sites like Facebook

He did also explain about the National Videogame Archive – they have an updated site, and the work done through Nottingham Trent University is going well.

Iain and James (with their Wii avatars) discussing the archive

After this we went along to The Peacock to hear about the NVA from Dr. James Newman and Iain. It was going to be a curry at the Mogal, but this was called off due to a wedding πŸ˜‰

The talk was enthusiastic, with a lot of great information on how the project was going and a lot on why it is going. The first thing they brought up was “Where’s Horace?” – the game Horace’s Ski Run was shown, and is a game that is unplayable today since no where sells it. Iain said he wanted to start the idea with James after reading James’ The Myth of the Ergodic Videogame. Iain wrote to James and got the idea rolling. They wrote the book 100 Videogames, where they found they could have put thousands of entries in – but the problem was, where do you find these old games to play?

Supersession was the main topic that came from that – the form of forced obsolescence (in software and hardware) and the nature of being dissatisfied with the current games, since magazines do so much previewing and everyone is putting out the idea that the next is always the best.

They set out the mission statement (below) but categorically stated that the archive is not to play the items, and it is different to a museum. The final main point was the archive had secured funding from the DCMS, and had visited the National Archives, so are setup to be a very permanent project.

The archives mission statement

The talk was also a discussion too – people did shout suggestions and bring up topics or points to agree or disagree with James or Iain (some merged into the notes above). Horace was also spotted a few times for prizes πŸ™‚ Interesting stuff! Some more pictures in my gallery too.

Next came, of all things, Game Charades. I made a video, which was is both of half-drunken quality and terrible sound (my camera keeps peaking and cutting out sound). You also can’t see much. For those brave of heart, or who want to hear how no one got Defender, go take a gander (it’s not on Youtube, it’s 12 minutes long so won’t go on. Thanks Google! πŸ™ ).

The final thing was GameCity itself – Iain wanted to discuss the name – currently it was planned to be “GameCity [squared]” since it was fully going to be based around the main square (somehow, since I’m not sure how talks would do with trams running past!). Suggestions ranged from not using anything more then GameCity (my preference) or maybe having just a subtitle left out of the main logo, to some ideas like Game4City, GameCity 4, GameCity 2009, and others (many I can’t remember, I hope they wrote them down).

The other thing to take away from the event was it was advertised only on Twitter and Facebook – everyone I chatted to commented that Iain needed to send out a proper news announcement more then 2 days in advance πŸ˜‰ but it was an interesting experiment.

I hope to see those GameCity sites go up soon πŸ™‚ and also maybe see more NVA news which I am sure to report on Preservation SIG blog.

OneLifeLeft Christmas Party and CD: Music To Play Games By

The stars!

Last Saturday hosted an awesome (but for me, cut short) Christmas extravaganza party being the OneLifeLeft Christmas episode recording (who knows if it’ll be worth airing however), and the launch of the OneLifeLeft CD: Music To Play Games By.

I took a few videos, the first of Craig “The Rage” doing another great poem:

Awesome signs!

And Derek Williams did a 3 song set of really unique rap, here’s the first:

Set 2 and Set 3 are also available, all in low quality as is the case with all my camera recordings πŸ™‚

The CD itself was great – Β£6 on the night, and only Β£7 at Amazon now. I got it signed by the cast (Ste, Simon and Ann) as well as the contributors there (Derek and Craig), and finally without knowing who he was, I got Simon who organised the effort to sign it too, awesome πŸ˜€ (Check his page for more details on the albums content). There are songs, if you like the general OneLifeLeft feel, for everyone. I especially enjoy The Lost Levels and The Doyouinverts, with excellent tracks on there, and also Optimus Rhyme’s Obey The Moderator song was surprisingly good. πŸ™‚

Well worth checking out in my opinion!

the doyouinverts

doyouinverts lyrics! woo!

the doyouinverts are a great comedy videogame-related band, they have some songs up (so I should have linked to them before!) and awesomely played at GameCity, where I captured their awesomeness in sadly, rather poor quality (below). I’ll have to catch them if they tour nearby or do another One Life Left appearance! If you have a chance, download some of their other tracks if you like their sound, I recommend Random Encounter, and although it’s not available to download (yet!) 7/10. Both work really well πŸ™‚ well, more so I got all the references in them I think, some of their others can be called rather obscure without reading the text accompanying the download.

Edit: 7/10 is also up! Yeah! Give that a shot if you have time πŸ™‚

Continue reading the doyouinverts

AI and Non-Player Character Workshop Report

Robin showing off DEFCON Bot AI

I am terrible at keeping my site updated, damn (I’ll post more often I hope!). Anyway, I went last Friday to the AI and Non-Player Character Workshop at the University of Essex, which was a pretty good day – I wrote up my notes as a report for AI Game Dev, and the pictures I took are available in my gallery if you want a super huge picture of Richard Bartle, or maybe Robin Baumgarten πŸ˜‰

GameCity 2008: Saturday

The “canvas” of Lego stuff

TT Games own Jonathan Smith presented how the Lego platformer series of games they’ve made came about. He explained about appealing to people who don’t like Star Wars for instance, and gave some detail on how the games were developed.

Sadly, the session “I was there…. DMA” was cancelled (due to the presenter Brian breaking his nose). This along with the other two “From the Desk Of” sessions sadly πŸ™

This is how Media Molecule rolls…everyone gets a say!

Media Molecule did the “GameCity Vision Statement supported by BAFTA”, and provided information on how the game was made, who made it, the changes during the game development – I also got the presenter Alex Evans to initial my Sackboy, and autograph my book. I do want to play the game, it would be real great to try it sometime despite my lack of proficiency with platformers.

I also got Alex the presenter to autograph my Sackboy model, and he also showed off four interesting videos I got a chance to record some of, the first being prototype footage of “brainfluff”, ie; Little Big Planet and what they showed Phil Harrison to get Sony on board. The second shows their prototyping method to get the team working together – showing the way 2d and 3d can be combined. The third and fourth interesting ones showed the “focus” of the game (made up to keep the team on track on what they were doing), and the last video was what they’ll show at their Christmas party, a short run of clips from their development. Really cool stuff πŸ˜€ I should have asked if I could have got any of them for the Internet Archive…damn.

I visited Indiecade through gaps in the day, and got a talk through of Where Is My Heart which looks like the finished game could be a nifty platformer. I played through . I saw levelHead – the physical blocks with a camera, it’s an interesting use of a camera. Democracy 2 was taking me ages to start, but I get it’s simulation aspect, and looks pretty in depth. I played through Ruckblende (Flashback), which aesthetically was amazing, being a paper-built world to do the point and click adventure, and hand drawn animations to portray moving things. I also saw Machinarium being shown off again πŸ™‚

I also recorded one of the more interesting games, Dark Room Sex Game. I’ll let you view the video, since it’s quite hard to describe. Additional info though; yes, you can be male on male, or female on female. It is hard (I didn’t try it myself however) and obviously, the noise your controller makes is the other person’s response πŸ˜‰

I hate American politics. Our’s wasn’t the only “Joe” reference either

Lastly was the Guardian GamesBlog Quiz, and the closing party. We didn’t win the quiz (tough competition I’ll say!) but the last round we did the most spectacular entry out of the lot. The party was okay, if a little empty – some free drinks (which lasted me the night), and a great “30 player game on a projector” setup was crazy. The first band, PowerPlay, were loud. Very loud. They also did a lot of Megaman, sadly (since I find the games’ themes all a bit repetitive). Press Play On Tape were more varied, and had some great songs during the night, but also were a bit loud (although more quiet then the others).

Some more pictures are available in my gallery too. My autograph book got a few more signatures, although I missed the bands’ – but all in all a fun day.

GameCity 2008: Friday

Goldeneye, really good commentary

I got up rather late after the previous evening, and with the buses being rubbish my journey took twice as long as it should have. Therefore, I missed the start of the “Goldeneye : The Director’s Commentary” history session – but still got the vast majority of it. It was great to see the details behind the game which was stuck on a 12MB console, and managed to get 4 player multiplayer, more advanced AI then most shooters and a great amount of maps and huge expansive level vistas. David Doak and Martin Hollis were very talkative and took some good questions all while playing the game.

Harmonix’s history – a very strange advert

“Harmonix : Ten Loud Years” after lunch was an interview with two of the developers about Harmonix’s history and present – from the older games they’ve made, FreQuency and Amplitude, as well as prototypes and some unfinished or unreleased games. They also had Dr. James Newman come on about the National Videogame Archive, and explain what Harmonix was contributing – one of the Rock Band drum set prototypes, handed over to Tom Wooley, curator of the relevant part of the National Media Museum.

Geometry Wars was the last session – they had a runthrough of all the Geometry Wars games, the design – audio, coding, iterations, and so forth.

Ross et al. as Splicers – not counted as zombies either

Then came the Market Square Zombie attempt, dancing to Thriller and Ghostbusters…and some other third, rubbish tune. I didn’t participate, I wanted to keep the facepaint off so I could use my own costume later easier.

Not a bad attempt for a Halloween costume πŸ™‚

I popped back home to get my Medic costume, and went to the party (got there around 30 minutes late, damn Pizza Hut service was atrocious). It was quite good – Jonathan Coulton (despite missing Code Monkey I was told, damn), and Rock Band was available (with the two Harmonix members trying with their interviewer, who failed the first time and then got a guitarist to do it properly πŸ™‚ ). I saw some other great costumes, which was cool too. There was also lots of Resident Evil stuff – a successful 2:00:40 speedrun of Resident Evil 4, and then Resident Evil 5 was on show (on one Xbox only sadly). Lastly there was Resident Evil Live – a corridor of zombies you had to fight past. I was a bit drunk when I did it and laughed at some bits, so got killed, oh well πŸ™‚

Again, I got some videos from this day – but only two, a brief bit of Jonathan Coulton and the Zombie Dance Record. There are also pictures in my gallery.