Category Archives: Travel

Posts about travelling (usually) long distances. I so wish we had teleporters :(

Conferences I’ll Attend in 2010

This week I finally decided to sort out what I was going to book/go to/do conference wise this year. I’ve been pretty busy not doing game development as such, so these would be a good excuse to be inspired and do things πŸ™‚ (Oh, and I can’t justifiably afford GDC this year since I have no pass, I need to save up some money!).

Women in Games Conference 2010

I went to the last conference in 2008, which was fun. I’m no further in doing things in the industry, but since it had informative talks – while the most costly of the events I’m planning to go to – still should be worthwhile. In any case, I love supporting any event that improves the diversity of the games industry (no, you don’t see many women at Develop or GDC generally outside PR… πŸ™ ).

Paris Game AI Conference 2010

The last years one was free, but the low cost, the fact it is AI (always fascinating and an area I still want to go into in games), and last years being a good, fun visit to Paris has made my mind up. I need to find some things to do while I’m there, so I’m pretty undecided how long I’ll stay around the event.

Brighton Develop Conference 2010

I’ve volunteered for this conference yet again, since I find that despite having to work all day it is informative and I get some choice in what to see πŸ™‚ (and I get to hear a OneLifeLeft special too I hope!). I am sure many volunteers will be returning, and I swear we’ll play a proper game of Werewolf again. Sadly, Brighton is a bit light on extra things to do, so I doubt I’ll book more time then the conference down there, having been around their museum and shops already.

Develop 2009 Roundup

develop09 whitebg

The Develop Conference was good this year – I have notes to write up, some interesting ones, which I hope to sort once I do my gallery up with some new software (this has but a few of the ones I took with my new camera, and I’ll link to the notes here and in a minipost when they are up). I’m glad I went, and I think that not wasting holiday time is pretty important πŸ™‚

Some CA's
Some CA's

The main thing was I got to talk to some great CA’s this year – who I also got to instruct them in the ways of Werewolf too. I also saw One Life Left (and participated!), although it seems it won’t be put up as a podcast, we’ll see. There was also Never Mind the Polygons, which was great. Much good discussion was had, and I caught up with some other people too.

I also put forward to the CA’s about the student SIG and got some positive and some muddling feedback, which I’ve taken on board πŸ˜€

Sadly, the IGDA presence was limited. I missed the Women in Games lunch (One Life Left was on at the same time), although this wasn’t strictly IGDA. The local chapter, from all reports is dead πŸ™ a great opportunity there missed, especially since evening activities were limited – recession hitting in I guess!

Fear the Flaming Brighton Pier!
Fear the Flaming Brighton Pier!

The one thing I did miss, entirely unrelated to games, was having time to swim in the sea. It was actually rather sunny on the first day, but I lacked the time – there was bag packing to do, and in addition the Guardian Games Quiz – where we got a 20/20 for our brilliant “Brighton Pier on Fire” demonic monster πŸ™‚

I also picked up Warhammer Mark of Chaos: Battle March – a mouthful to be sure. It didn’t change the original game much, but provided a good deal of fun for the reduced Β£4 price – the campaign has some quite fun missions (although I lament not being able to play the Dwarfs still, and I couldn’t get online). I might get around to writing something up about it, we’ll see.

Paris and AiGameDev Conference

Tour de Eiffel

Paris was great fun, I got to go to the AiGameDev conference where I helped out by operating the camera, recording every talk, and took my own notes too – good event, well worth going over just for that.

After the conference was over though, I had a day and a half extra (rather stupidly I booked my return trip on the Eurostar on Saturday not Sunday, but well, I did run out of things I really wanted to see anyway!). On the Thursday evening, when most people were going back from the conference anyway, I took a walk around Notre Dame and the Ile de la CitΓ©. Interesting architecture, although sadly the Sainte-Chappelle church which is meant to have amazing stained glass was closed by then.

Notre Dame

The Friday was dedicated to me getting up not as early as I had planned, failing to get a bike (since it didn’t give me a receipt and of course, I can’t ring the help number up) so ending up taking the metro to the Eiffel Tower. Was great getting up the steps (which didn’t take long to queue for, considering the line for the one functional lift to the middle was huge), and I did decide to go up all the way after slowly going around the first two floors – took ages – only 2 lifts even went to the top from the middle, but got up in the end. πŸ™‚ The delays and closures appear to all be just from the painting work, and I didn’t even realise it was “bronze” (or more accurately “brown”) they painted it, since from far away it looks pretty generic black/dark.

After that, I took a walk, long walk, longer then I had planned anyway, up and around other parts near the Eiffel Tower, failing to see any interesting museums I wanted to go in. Since I hadn’t had internet since getting to Paris, and not wanting to do one of the art museums, it made me wish I had planned it a bit more πŸ™‚ but still got to see some brilliant areas. I went to McDonalds to get their free wifi, to plan what else to do.


So, on Friday evening I decided to do something a bit different – I went to see Rigoletto, an Italian Opera by Verdi, performed outside at Le Jardin Du SΓ©nat, located here. Very nice to see outdoors, despite some sound issues (on the speakers it seems), and the fact an italian play, with a French programme, and subtitles of course in French at the sides of the stage meant I didn’t get the most out of it. Reading the wikipedia synopsis makes it also make a bit more sense, although I could tell most of what was going on. Well worth seeing the odd opera I think πŸ™‚ – this famous one had a few highly recognisable parts too (this being the most famous), and I mainly enjoyed the music rather then the story. I did see if there was any orchestras playing, but according to the web there wasn’t apart from this.

Fascinating part of the catacombs

Finally, I visited the Catacombs on Saturday, kind of rushing them (since I had a train to catch and got up half an hour later then I intended). Luckily the line wasn’t too slow, and it was facinating – not just that there are catacombes and the bones themselves, but that it has been open to tourists for hundreds of years, so has some really, really old tourist boards set into the walls πŸ™‚ I’d highly recommend going to it, and on a hot day it’s very refreshingly cool, and only really creepy if there are no other people around, which won’t really happen.

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™‚

First Day of Work In Snow

What I saw at 7AM, eek!

Fun and games today – freezing cold now. It didn’t help my return journey despite getting to my first day of work (which will be frontline IS support for students at Nottingham University) on time. My return journey took 3 hours or so, for a trip which is meant to be around an hour to and hour and a half. I spent half an hour waiting for a bus (luckily, near the front of the queue).

At least while on the bus I started Time Hollow – rather frustratingly a “try everything” game (ala Phoenix Wright in some ways) but a nice premise and good visuals, with no a bad bit of dialogue. Time travel always ticks some good boxes for me if done well, and so far it seems to be okay.

Tomorrow I’m thinking Wellington boots. I just don’t want to have wet feet for walking around at work! At least it looks nice, except when cars crash into next door’s bins after sliding down the hill. Steep roads were closed off, the salt and gritters were pretty overwhelmed I guess today – should be okay by Wednesday for Nottingham at least despite whatever snowfall occurs (as long as the gritters have done the roads), since there has never been big an issue with snow here.

National Videogame Archive Visit

A Pile O’ Stuff to sort

Today I visited the National Videogame Archive, or the beginnings of it at least! I met with Tom Woolley, who is the Curator of New Media – the National Media Museum where this is going to be hosted is branching out into videogames after it’s name change – previously it focused on TV, radio, photography and film.

The archive in it’s initial state was pretty cool to get some pictures of, and the start of it considering it’s only been publicised this month, is a damn good one. Tom detailed every way the archive stuff at the museum was setup and his plans to put on hopefully a permanent exhibition (maybe with interactive elements and some games to play), or at least a temporary exhibition of videogames once the museum has enough material – perhaps in a few years. These are quite lofty aims, and hopefully the collection will rapidly grow to fill the need. When putting on an exhibition Tom will be able to get more material specifically for that exhibit too – hopefully adding interviews, oral histories, and so on and so forth to the collection.

The original Sony Eyetoy Prototype!

There’s a great deal of work to do – luckily, it is run through the museum rather then it’s own endeavour so he has a lot of help (although, it comes with a cost of justifying all his decisions due to their somewhat limited space and money πŸ™‚ ). He is requesting any material that might be worth via. the donations policy. Since they haven’t got a complete console collection yet, and not an abundance of games, now might be a good opportunity to help!

Since this is the only videogame archive in the UK now, since Swindon’s efforts are currently closed down for now, it is a worthwhile think donating and helping the project if you can. There are more general computer museums for mainframes and non-videogame computers of course, but this specifically will also archive all kinds of culturally worthy material for videogames too – including relevant magazine collections, digital material, and a lot of things developers might have πŸ™‚

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™‚

Back from Brighton


I’m back, with many a photo and note on what I went to at the Develop conference this year. Helping out was good, with better start times and organisation this year. I’ll post up all I can over the next few days, there was some really interesting things that are worth noting. My notes won’t be as brilliant as a few of the Gamasutra writeups – I might invest in some kind of audio recorder next time and use that, if the conference organisers allow it, since it’d make it a lot easier to record quotes since the sessions are not recorded.

NaSTA Conference 2008…and the future

All dressed up

I went to the 2008 NaSTA awards – likely my last visit – at the weekend. It was okay – silly, and was close by at least. I’m a cynical git when it comes to thinking what will happen in the future of the organisation (what that it is) however, but I won’t detail that until the end of my little report πŸ™‚ . See also; the gallery, in which I took 200 or so pictures, although I should have discarded some of the duplicates. Continue reading NaSTA Conference 2008…and the future