…and breathe

I’ll get my gaming/technology news fix any way I can. Having got a Sky+ box at the start of the year and wandering through a few channels I’ve been able to spot a couple of TV programmes that are about videogames. Whilst I don’t have any experience making factual, news or technology focused programmes I have to say that what I see is pretty sub-standard viewing.

I’m not expecting a show to compete with the up-to-the-second news delivery that the Internet can offer. Nor am I expecting it to offer the level of detail that print media does. But what I see on my screen is pretty insulting to my intelligence and have to wonder who can find it appealing.

My primary gripes are:

Watching average gamers play games is not entertaining.
I adore watching speed-runs or videos of killer King of Fighter combos and examples of supreme gaming skill. I have absolutely no desire to watch a couple of kids or minor celebs waggle their thumbs accross a digital football pitch whilst attempting to score a goal by luck.

Padding out your show by presenting a semi-skilled semi to be followed up in part 2 by a semi-skilled final of Fifa just makes the situation worse. Yes, you’ve filled 12 of your 25 minutes of broadcast time but you’ve not done anything watchable.

Post play analysis of average gamers is not entertaing either
I don’t sit around navel gazing rethinking my ‘technique’ in Tony Hawks or 60 seconds of a Dance Dance game. Neither does anyone else apart from pro-gamers. Asking 13 year old Terry how they outsmarted their rival on Streetfighter isn’t really going to result in anything worth hearing because the answer isn’t real. Ask an expert, sure. Don’t ask some kid who got lucky – and don’t tell me it’s informative or entertaining.

I know the name of the show I’m watching and I don’t suffer from attention deficit disorder.
Yes, your logo is nice. OK, so you’ve got some kid doing 3DSMax or Maya animations with it in. Good for you. But I *really* don’t need to see 10 seconds of your logo spinning around between every element of your show as wells as the ad-breaks.

I’ve not done a controlled study but I reckon there’s a good couple of minutes worth of self-indulgent logo-spinning done in these shows that’s totally needless and boring as hell.

Show some consistency with your attitude
Either you think I’m a kid who’s desperate to hear about Pokemon or you think I’m a teenager who’s desperate to hear some innuendo or footage suggesting Mario has a penis. It’s clear as hell you don’t consider any of your viewers as adults, that goes without saying.

Show more games
I don’t give a fuck about the presenters. I don’t need to see some egotistical idiot giving a 2 minute monologue about how he’s about to show you a game or how he travelled to this part of the country. Whatever you’ve got to say, you can say it in a voiceover whilst I’m viewing the game(s). Gamespot video reviews do this perfectly.

You’re not funny.
Seriously. If we want jokes we’ll ask or we’ll watch a comedy. If you GENUINELY have an insider joke that shows you truly understand our culture then maybe, MAYBE we’ll forgive you. Otherwise just don’t bother. Please.

Show more games
We love games! Show us more! If you’ve got a REALLY good scoop on some mega-exclusive then dedicate more time to it. Otherwise show us a minute or so of footage and move on. Watching games is less fun than playing them, so show us a little bit of LOTS of games.

We know what interaction is
Don’t invite us to phone in so you can give us a cheat for GTA:SA that everyone already knows. Don’t tells us to try this or that out here and now. We’re not taping your show and your delivery of information usually sucks so bad that we can’t hear you over whatever generic drum and bass crap you’ve got playing all the time. We certainly aren’t going to remember some web address or convoluted series of button-presses. We play games, we know how to interact with something. Just give us the damn games, ok?

DO show us stuff that magazines can’t.
Get into shows, have proper (not staged) interviews with industry figures. Show us areas of gaming culture (pro-gamer events, game music concerts, launches of new hardware). Don’t, for crying out loud, show us poor quality footage of Killzone with the goddamn IGN logo sitting in the corner of the screen.

Lay off the damn video effects and ‘trendy’ music
Your voice? Yes. The game’s SFX? Yes. The games’ music? Yes. Exciting drum and bass beats banging away whilst you spin a logo of your show around the screen to prove you’re hip, trendy and know what the kids want? No.

Oh, and show us more games.

A fair amount has been said about new games journalism and it’s presence in print and online. I’m still waiting for old games journalism to hit broadcast media.

Mind Melt

For some reason my head feels odd today. I think it?s due to my repaired specs. I had a minor problem with them in that one of the clear plastic nose-rests had snapped off. When I walked into the optician I didn?t actually expect them to break the glasses further. A week later, they?re back from .. wherever .. and I have fixed nose rests AND new arms. Dunno what that?s all about but they feel like they?re squeezing my head a bit too tightly. Time will tell.

Last night I watched Jack Bauer walk away into the distance after saving mankind as we know it (or the USA as the USA knows it, it?s the same thing) from evil people who are different from Americans. It looked like something right out of those old The Hulk episode with Dr. Bruce Banner trudging off with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Why do I watch this pap? We all know Jack?ll do it. We all know that he? got a hardon for the US of A that?d make Ron Jeremy blush.

All I can say in my defence is that, however preposterous 24 may be, it?s still infinitely more believable than Most Haunted.

I?ll leave you to draw your own conclusions from that.

I played through Area 51 on my PC last week. Really enjoyed it. It?s fun in the sense a B-movie that doesn?t take itself too seriously is fun. It?s production values aren?t up there with Half Life 2 (in spite of some cracking FMV and roped in ?stars? doing voice acting). The game is solid, trashy fun that delivers a nice earnest challenge. Unfortuantely, it continues Midway?s reputation of making shockingly bad narrative climaxes. Psi Ops was pretty terrible, this is fairly poor too.

Had a download of Gamespot Complete?s stab at the Gamespy client and found I couldn?t log in. I was that disgruntled with the whole thing that I couldn?t even be arsed to check out the support forums. I kinda assume that if they email me to check out their ?sneek peek? then it should be ready for checking out. Looks like I?m wrong.

Elsewhere, the TGN chat-room is alive and well. I yanked out my web-interface at pointed it at the new server. Looks like the triv-bot is still winning fans. Considering half these chatters are frothing at the gash for next gen gaming technology they?re really happy to play a simple game of online trivia. Go figure.

TGN Chatroom

My final observation of this wittering drivel is focused on the PC version of GTA: San Andreas. The game seems pretty much identical to it?s PS2 counterpart. Indentical that is, with the notable exception of having to install it and select video resolutions.

So, Rockstar haven?t made any noticeable improvements to this epic title and I can understand that. What I can?t understand is why a game that was originally played comfortably on a 2-stick, 10-button controller now has key-mappings for about 60 controls.

I have a festering rant about TV videogame programs but I?ve droned on long enough for today. Look out for it later in the week.


There were actually a number of things I found quite blogworthy in my trawl around the interweb yesterday. However, my pesky full-time job got in the way of it all. So, to the thousands of you that read this, here’s a summary in classic News at 10 format:


Rail congestion charged proposed
In a ‘so absurd it could only come from British politics’ kind of way, it now appears that the success of London’s road congestion charge is to be considered for rail. Surely, rail congestion has increased (God knows how, I can’t see how they can cram more sardines into those tins) because of the road charges. Now Alistair “I don’t actually use public transport” Darling is saying the same concept will solve rail’s woes?

I suspect the plan is to alternate between hiking up road and rail charges so that poor commuters endlessly ping-pong between the lesser of the two evils.

What I’d really like to know is where all this extra money is going? I see charges always on the increase but I don’t see it being spent.

God I’m glad I don’t commute through London any more!


You know how you’ve always suspected that the ‘next piece’ display in Tetris is ALWAYS giving you the worst piece possible? Well it wasn’t. This new Linux version of Tetris on the other hand, uses complex algorithms and geeky science to make your block-falling experience as painful as possible.

Government bureaucrats worldwide have expressed an interest.


Command line for the web
For those of you who recall typing commands to get results (Try “Format C:”) you’ll like this. It looks like Google but behaves like CMD. Typing “gim Lara Croft” does a Google Image Search for Lara Croft. Faster than clicking. Brain not included.


Videogames-in-the-news hat-trick!
The Good: Videogame teaches kids conflict resolution
The Bad: Official – Parents ignore videogame ratings (until it’s too late)
The Ugly: Senator Denounces Game Still Under Developement


Someone likes my words and has requested 300 on a regular basis (hey, it’s a start)


SPOnG.com have new screenshots of Shadow of the Colussus and expanded gameplay speculation.


That’s the headlines. Update at 11. Goodnight.

Battlefield 2

With Gamespot giving the new game a 9.3 rating and Gamespy offering a perfect score to EA’s latest offering it seems that even the EA bashers may have to keep tight-lipped about this one.

The best thing that we can say about Battlefield 2 is that even when it’s at its worst, it can still be as much fun as its illustrious predecessors. However, when you experience Battlefield 2 like it’s meant to be played, with everyone working together and using real-time voice chat, the game quickly becomes unlike anything else that you’ve played before. When it’s at its best, Battlefield 2 elevates online gaming to whole new heights. Put simply, this is a thrilling and revolutionary game that just has to be played to be believed.

Can anybody blame EA for being so keen to hold onto Digital Illusions? Is there any major publisher that would act differently?

I never played the original but I was certainly aware of it’s power to convert lunchtime CounterStrike players over. I guess I’m just not sharp enough at FPS games to make a worthy contribution to a game such as this. Heck, the last FPS I can remember truly enjoying was Quake 2 in network deathmatch mode. I liked the purity of it and don’t really think too much of all the added features that are offered in today’s efforts.

Still, the quote above (from Gamespot) certiainly compells me to check this one out. As if I need another excuse to spend more time at the PC!

Game of death

A 4-month-old girl suffocated alone at home while her parents were away at a Korean Cyber Caf? playing World of Warcraft, according to the Digital Chosunilbo.

The online paper is reporting that the 29-year-old dad and his wife left their daughter in their bedroom about 4 p.m. on May 24 to go play WOW at a caf?. When the couple returned five hours later their daughter was lying on her stomach, dead. Police believe she suffocated.

Great. Can’t wait until The Mirror gets hold of THAT one.

As a fairly dedicated gamer, although one with no real interest in MMORPGs, I have to respect Blizzard and their product. It’s certainly done well for them (a little too well by the sounds of some irate gamers who can’t get on the game’s servers) and it’s clearly a compelling game to play.

I’ve never been so involved in a game that I’ve entirely forgotten the world around me. If there’s something in the oven the I’ll remember it’s there. If the front door to the flat is left open, I’ll know about it. I always used to think I understood the mentality of gamers to some degree. What the hell kind of people LEAVE their home to go to an internet cafe for five hours and forget about the child they’ve only had for four months? I just can’t understand that one.
Please explain it to me.

Likewise, anyone who puts more blame on the game than the parents are free to be sent my way also.

Dirk would know..

Holistically speaking, what would you assume from these events:

  • Last week I was in tug of war as the anchorman
  • After a small operation on Friday I now have a hole in the flesh under my tongue
  • Instead of fixing my glasses, the optician made them worse. I’m without them for a week and wearing my perscription shades in the office all week as a result.
  • I’ll be getting a ?300 bonus in this month’s pay-packet
  • The fire-alarm test that runs every Monday at 10:30am at my place of work has now been mysteriously scheduled to run at 10:45am from now on.
  • My primary hard disk died on me on my home PC.

These events must all add up to SOMETHING.. ..but what?

Mario None-two-eight

I’ve just been pointed to an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto by Wired, an excerpt of which reads:

WN: This is the first traditional side-scrolling Mario game Nintendo has made since 1991. Why wait this long to do a new Mario game in the original style?

Miyamoto: Because we’d spent all this time working on 3-D Mario games. And of course, when we had Rare developing the side-scrolling Donkey Kong Country games, we were able to rely on them, which kept us from coming back to side-scrollers for a long time.

WN: But there’s still no sign of the long-rumored Mario 128 for GameCube.

Miyamoto: It’s still floating around. We’re searching for that fundamental idea that’s going to drive the next 3-D Mario game. But we’re not sure when that’s going to jump out at us. We’re doing lots of tests with small groups.

WN: If that’s the case — if the design process is still at the point where you’re doing experiments and tests — is it even possible that Mario 128 could come out on GameCube at this point? Or is it definitely a Revolution title?

Miyamoto: We think we want it on Revolution.

WN: So, there will be no new GameCube Mario platform game.

Miyamoto: Right. The Mario team can’t create too many games at the same time, so they’re concentrating on the Revolution.

A summary of which was provided on a game forum thus:

Kohler: So, Mario 128. Where the fuck is he?

Miyamoto: We’re, uh, still running tests.

Kohler: So you’re telling me nothing actually exists and you’re just jerking us around.

Miyamoto: Basically.

Hate to say I told you so…

[Full interview]

Naval fluff

Best name spotted today: Lorenzo Di Bonaventura
Best picture spotted before doing any real work for the day: Penny Arcade: Fruit Fucker San A ndreas.

Best way of distracting me from my work: Home PC refusing to reboot. At all!

Worst news of the day so far: Resident Evil 3 and 4 movies going ahead

Best Flash distraction of the moment: Spiderman & Batman hot swinging action

I’m with stupid

My wife emailed me at work yesterday and suggested moving a console into the front room so we could both play something on the big screen. After my initial shock I thought ‘why not?’ I had a few games that I thought we could play together and enjoy although I know that, ultimately, it’ll all end in endless SSX 3 sessions.

At 5pm I strolled over to Toys R Us across the road and invested in a second PS2 controller and a second GBA to GC link cable on the offchance we might finally make a start with multiplayer Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles.

25 pounds lighter, I got back to the flat to plug in the new gizmos only to realise that I had in fact just bought a third controller and cable, not a second. No biggie – except there’s only two of us in the flat. Bugger!

Still, four hours later, beanbags in place and controllers in hand we proceeded to play a couple of dirty games of Fifa 2005 and ended up evens with us both having a 1-0 win under our belts. All in all not a totally wasted evening!

A New Hope

KoffBLOG, being the least frequently updated blog on the net has made a resolution for itself. If I’m having a boring day at work then I’ll make a blog entry. Lucky me and lucky you!
Today is such a day.

Firstly, I’ve decided to get officially excited about the Batman Begins movie. Strictly speaking, I’ve been bubbling away on this for some time. I mean, it has the promising ingredients of being directed by Christopher ‘Insomnia’ Nolan and having some great screen presence from folk such as Liam Neeson (sporting some fine facial hair), Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman (can do no wrong), Ken Watanabe and, of course, Christian Bale – back in bulk from turning practically transparent in The Machinist. But, after the last couple of Batman movies it’s perhaps understandable as to why I’ve curbed my enthusiasm.

However, I collected some of my news feeds this morning and noticed that ComingSoon.net felt it necessary to report not one but two glowing reviews of the movie. This bodes well.

In other news it seems that the Sony PSP is very likely to become the homebrew machine of choice as a wealth of emulators to play NES, GB, GBC and even SNES and Megadrive games appear to all be making good progress – providing you can battle your way through the Sony’s restrictive firmware. Sony embraced the homebrew market with PlayStation 1’s YAROZE development platform – I can’t help thinking that Sony may do better for themselves if they make some attempt to embrace the homebrew momentum that’s already evident on the PSP rather than attempt to curb it.

Elsewhere, the persistently entertaining Sega lovin’ UK Resistance hardasses have asked one Mr. Miyamoto why he’s evangelising the need for shorter games, greater inventiveness and broader imagination when it seems that he’s greenlighting (read: whoring) Mario excursions into Football, dancing games, party games, Baseball and maybe even a platformer or three.
And that’s it for now – maybe something more up to date later!

[Currently playing: Maple Story – PC MMORPG]
[Currently downloading: Area 51 – PC, Doom III – PC, Photoshop CS2 ‘Total Training 3xDVD set]