Category Archives: Events

Posts about events, I’ve attended/will attend/am attending.

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.

GameCity 2008: Thursday

Macharium Concept for the hero robot

I got to Gamecity a tad late, so missed the Eyetoy stuff in the morning, which I didn’t mind missing much – since I don’t have a PS3 πŸ™‚ I visited Indiecade for a bit before meeting Alice – who I met at GDC and another IGDA scholarship winner – and moving to Gatecrasher for some talks.

Firstly was the session “Amanita Design : Inside Macharium EXCLUSIVE” – the designer (I presume Jakub Dvorsky despite him not being named anywhere in the programme as presenting it) walked us through most of Machinarium, then went into the team and how levels and the games are designed – very interesting, especially since they solely use flash. Machinarium should be out next May or so I think he said, which is ace, despite me being poor at the puzzles in the game (feedback is a problem).

At the same time it was on, I missed David Braben talking about Lost Winds – he did, I was told after it, a similar talk to what he said in Brighton at the Develop conference, including his part about used games.

Next I saw the end of Tom Kim’s talk about how games helped him through illness (a brain tumour), which was very interesting. He explained his difficulty with playing games that kill people too.

Geeky David Jaffe

Sadly, the Splash Damage guys doing “Splash Damage : From Frags to Riches” were late, and clashed with From the “From the Desk of David Jaffe” talk – and of course no one mentioned it either. Oh well, I missed them πŸ™ but I got to ask David Jaffe some questions about some topics πŸ˜€ (like leaving Sony for instance).

Absolutely fucking awesome!

After this was DS Night for an hour and a bit, where we got some good 8 player Mario Kart going – then onto One Life Left’s curry evening show. The show was great, with live 2 live doyouinverts songs (with part of the band, since the others were on tour) being “7 out of 10” and “Random Encounter”, and Craig “The Rage” McClellan doing some of his older poems live! At the end I also got an amazing thing to remember the night – the doyouinverts band member gave me his lyrics (attached authentically to a menu) and Craig gave me his poem copies – noting there were more then he read out, so he had to choose. Awesome πŸ˜€

I did get videos of the doyouinverts and Craig performing and 2 of the OLL record breaking stunts, they’re on my youtube channel I’m trying out, and in a playlist too. There’s a lot more pictures too in my gallery.

Throughout the day, I got autographs – since the Gamecity “Programme” was a brief thing which looks like a Passport. At the end of the day, I got the Gamecity organisers, all the One Life Left crew, Amanita Design and Tom Kim sign it – David Jaffe would have been tough to get, being on videocast though πŸ™‚ Great way to remember the things going on though, I’ll get more today (Friday) I’m sure.

Eurogamer Expo Day #2

Multiwinia allows manual control of defensive turrets, neat!

Day 2 was much like Day 1, so I won’t detail every game again πŸ˜‰ but I got some more pictures!

I did get to play Mirrors Edge, which does play well once you’ve got a grasp of the controls. Enjoyable, but I’m still dubious about the PC release – DRM (it’s from EA), possible control issues, and certainly the game might be a tad short since they seem to press the Time Trial mode and speedrunning aspects more then the length of the game, which is a real shame. It looks really good though (which really helps the gameplay), although the version at the expo was really graphically aliased.

I also tried a bit of Left 4 Dead – it does play okay, as co-op things go. No particular difficulties, the rush of zombies is a bit odd since they don’t damage you much but is fun enough. I’m not sure about it at the full-game price, and will have to try the demo first (I also played it on the Xbox 360, which doesn’t help) – it really needs some good friends to play with, so I’m not sure I’ll get it unless I can convince a few others to get it as well.

All in all fun stuff, especially playing some more Plain Sight and War Twat. πŸ˜€

Eurogamer Expo Day #1

Today I worked at the Eurogamer Expo helping on the Pixel Lab Indie Games Arcade (lots of Indie PC games), helping David there.

David plays War Twat

A quick run through of the games in no particular order; War Twat was a unique, completely over the top “space war shooter”. Incredible stuff, insane how it was made in such a short amount of time too. Try it at least a few times, once you learn you can hold fire down. The top score was over 1700, with a lot of attempts (over 600…must have been more, but that was when the record was set I think). It was overlooked a lot of the time, no controls are listed on the start screen so we taped some down nearby in the late afternoon to help.

Braid, originally beta’ed on the PC I think, was there in it’s time manipulating with platform elements and some-kinda-crazy-story-I-guess glory. Of course, it’s hard to not play a great deal of it or get confused by the later levels if you haven’t played the earlier ones, but people did persevere in trying it.

World Of Goo is, of course, as at GDC, a lot of fun if you get it. I’m personally pretty terrible at “Lemmings” games, of which this is a toned down version of essentially – you get different goos, which stick together to get around obstacles. I know one guy completed two chapters in one go while there, that’s a lot of playing. I should try it myself some more.

Off Road Velociraptor Safari is crazy-silly. You can play it yourself too, so give it a try. It’s pretty silly πŸ™‚ Did I say it was silly yet? πŸ˜€

Psychosomnium is, as it says on the tin, pretty psycho. As described on the card, it’s part of the Masocore games, and if people don’t get a few tips even the first few screens of the game are pretty daunting in a “think outside the norm” elements. Interesting to finish though (a great parody of some platformers and elements in them too), and recommended so highly by one of the other Pixel-Lab guys that he wants more, more! More grueling levels, anything, just more of it! Must be worth a try (I tried, and failed some bits without a guide a while back, hehe. I fail πŸ™‚ ).

Multiwinia was there, LANed up too (and even got a visit by their now-2-strong PR department, I got a red Darwinian they left πŸ˜€ (see my pictures). The game itself is defiantly heavy on the micro in some respects, but does I am told afford some more higher level strategy. I’m not sure I’d cope with it to be honest, it seems a very hard core game overall but well suited to those who understand how to order the Darwinians around efficiently.

Busy Plain Sight

Machinarium was, to put it bluntly, brilliant looking. It’s still in beta, so I forgive it, but the puzzles, while not unforgiving in a thinking capacity, hindered you a lot by not showing you what pieces were selectable or what actions were possible without anything but a cursor change. Plenty of “try every combination” gameplay (and carefully checking pixels at times too). It works pretty damn well though, I expect the final game to be much more expanded (there was 7 levels in this beta) and certainly more polished, so it should be good for adventure people (quite a few enjoyed the game despite getting stuck too, which is awesome).

Finally, Plain Sight needs an entry of it’s own. A 4 man team has made an impressive fighting game, which does keep you interested in playing more well beyond what I would have thought. They were looking for feedback before a public PC beta (sign up now!). I first heard about this at Alice’s Wonderland blog, and it looks even more awesome and impressive in real life. They were using Xbox 360 controllers to make it easier to manage, but informed me it was built as a PC game, so the mouse and keyboard work excellently, which is great! I’ll try the PC beta, hopefully once they sort out some of the niggling problems (telling apart the different players apart from their nicknames for starters, possibly by using colour coding instead of altering the colour for how much multiplier a player has built up, and having the colour get lighter with more points) it’ll be utterly unstoppable! The most popular thing since it of course had 5 player LAN multiplayer, and all the team were there helping people out with it.

Spaf posing with Beret and Tattoos

There was some gubbins I got too – apart from a Darwinian, I got a Lionhead yoyo to keep me entertained while I didn’t play videogames, and others got some weird stuff – like Saints Row “fake tattoos” and a blue beret (I forget the game…) – see right! See my gallery for a few more pictures, mainly of people playing the indie games.

I need to check out the Expo tomorrow – Mirrors Edge (although I want to play it on PC, it just looks awesome to be honest, this being an EA game too so I’ve gotta be wary of DRM) and possibly Left-4-Dead (although I think it only is being shown on Xbox 360). I want to visit the career fair too, get some advice and see if any graduate programming jobs are available anywhere. We’ll see what tomorrow is like, just before GameCity starts, which also should be awesome!

Video Games Live Was Great!

The show!

Video Games Live was fun stuff. For the day, we visited first Funland arcade in the city centre then went off to the show. There were some Guitar Hero: World Tour bits going on before it began, too.

The awesome Martin Leung

The show itself was great. All console music, basically, but quite well done mixtures of tracks and video accompaniment. There were also some special bits – Martin Leung (who didn’t really talk πŸ™ ), did first a set of Final Fantasy tunes and then his famous Mario and Tetris tracks on the piano. There was audience interaction too – someone who played Tetris by being the gun at the bottom, although it didn’t work to well πŸ™ – and also a Guitar Hero: Areosmith track, accompanied by Tommy Tallarico.

Tommy getting a world record

Tommy Tallarico hosted it, and even got a Guinness World Record for the most games worked on by a single person during the show. Jack Wall was the conductor, who has created some great music before, conducting his own Mass Effect music during the show too.

Fanart in the video for “One Winged Angel”

A few oddities though – there was no Square Enix videogame footage, substituting Disney movie footage for Kingdom Hearts, and fanart for the Final Fantasy “One Winged Angel” piece. Odd that. Also, there was a distinct lack of PC videogame music – no Red Alert, Civilization, Half-Life or anything else (but there was the ubiquitous World of Warcraft, and for some reason Everquest II. There was also Diablo III – they need to update the video which was all concept art though πŸ™‚ ).

The videogame historian in me wanted to know what it was like up in the old Sony arcade…

I also got the CD, which is pretty good (if only I still did my radio show!) – I love the Civilization 4 rendition, which is one of my favourite tracks. The line to get it singed was a wee bit big, but oh well, I’ll try and get it signed some other time πŸ™‚

I hope they can get around to doing a Phoenix Write melody at the show, if so, I’ll definitely go again πŸ™‚ – there’s my full gallery of pictures of the event. I also had some videos; which are pretty cool:

atypicalgamer also has a report on the event, with some better pictures too πŸ™‚

Video Games Live!

Going to Video Games Live tomorrow in London, should be a good event – I missed an opportunity to see it in San Francisco last February, and so I made my mind to go to this whatever. My grounding from my radio show should put me in good stead, no doubt a lot of tracks will be console games πŸ˜‰ Going with some friends too, and should be visiting some arcades and shops beforehand. Hopefully the weather isn’t too bad is the only thing! Travelling in London is not fun at the best of times, heh.

Next week are some other things, like the London Games Festival and GameCity which I’ll post about at the weekend, then share my thoughts on next week. Citizen journalism here I come! πŸ™‚

Women in Games Day 3


I’ve written up/added all my notes for the Women in Games, Day 3. That completes the set – Friday was a half-day, and I finally got home to upload my photos. Hooray for blurryness! (I didn’t want to use the flash much – it wasn’t much use when I did anyway). Look at them at lower resolutions and it’s okay πŸ™‚ gives you an idea of who was speaking anyway.

Included in the photos are the visit to Warwick Castle and the banquet, and to download also are 3 videos from the night – Are e do are e do (singing), the rules and some comedy, and finally the Lord Oliver the Vegetarian tasting the meat, since he’s a supposed poisoner.

The conference was fun, and very interesting – a mix of academic, industry and plenty of other things. Incredibly talented people presenting, and various important topics raised. I’ll try and make next years, I think!

Day 3 – September 12th