24 July 2008

Little Big Whoop

The following is from my new primary blog at Giant Bomb:

So everyone loves LittleBigPlanet apparently. Seriously, the game's not out yet and everyone seems to love it. Everywhere I look, it's heralded as the second coming. And I can't see why. Okay, it lets you make your own levels. It's not that big a deal. I see people rave about every little thing. People call me weird for not being interested. I'm sorry folks, it's just not that interesting an idea. I'd never play it long enough to make anything I really liked with the editor, so I'm not interested.

It bugs me that in an era when everyone complains about the hype of games like Halo 3, Grand Theft Auto IV and Metal Gear Solid 4 (Games which were awesome, get over it folks), all those same people don't have a bad thing to say about LittleBigPlanet. I get it, you're interested. Doesn't mean the idea is particularly amazing or that the game's that original. Doesn't mean I have to like it too.

So add me to the minority not in the least bit interested in LittleBigPlanet.

Now Black Rock's Pure? There's a game I can get behind. Mindless off-road fun? Hell to the yes. 16-Player online races? Oh yeah.

Yes, I think Pure's going to be better than LittleBigPlanet. And for me, it will be. I might be alone in that. Does that mean you need to come here and tell me how wrong I am and list all the features of LittleBigPlanet which have still not made me think it's god (Yes, I ave heard about them)? No, it doesn't.

I'm immue to Little Big Planet's power. Even if I have to be the lone critic, I will be.

Jens Out

21 July 2008

Kaboom!

And just like that, The Bomb blew. Giant Bomb (dot) com has finally opened the doors to the final site, and it's absolutely fantastic. The site's got a few creaks owing to the huge load we're putting on it, but it's standing up better than I expected. Things are getting done.

The site looks attractive and it's laid out very well. The whole thing also has a very social atmosphere to it, it's friendly and communal - the content, largely collaborative. The forums are just getting started and already we're getting on very well.

The site's video player is also very good, attractive and simple, keeps out of the way. Very nice.

We may have just knocked the servers over there...Whoops.

Oh, there it goes. Back now.

Anyway, staying up for the site proved to be worth it. I guarantee if I'd gone to bed, I'd have slept past the launch and wouldn't have gotten to see the site until the afternoon. That would have been unacceptable.

I'm making a bunch of friends in the Live Stream chatroom. This is going to be fun.

Well, the site's now getting over the earlier crashes where it would completely fail to resolve as the load on the servers decreases - a lot of the users in America for example are heading to bed so the server's aren't taking such a huge hit.

There are lingering issues, with quite a few bugs and glitches yet to be sorted, but there don't seem to be any show stoppers. So far, it's a relatively smooth launch.

Can't wait for the next Bombcast.

Bomb Watch Starts Here

Giant Bomb's Jeff Gerstmann today e-mailed anyone who had sent an e-mail to one of the Giant Bomb addresses (Notable the Beta Signup Address). It formalises the site's launch as being imminent, a fact already made abundently clear by the blog having been replaced with a teasing image and a "Landing shortly" message.

The most important part of the message reads:
This e-mail is being sent to let you know that we're getting very close to the beta launch of giantbomb.com -- if you want to be extra-certain that you secure your username of choice, you should start taking occasional looks at the site to see if it's up yet. You will not receive a second e-mail from us, as we're solely focused on the site itself.

So what will you be able to do on Giant Bomb?

Explore a database that already contains...
Entries for over 72,000 releases.
Pages for nearly 90,000 people involved in the creation of video games.
Almost 600 character pages!
Something like 580 pages for gaming franchises!
Dude, I don't know, how about I just write "and much, much more" here and we move on?
Don't forget, you'll be able to edit and add to all of these things!

And of course, we'll have message boards. Tens of thousands of message boards! Way too many message boards! Everything from the PlayStation 3 to hamburgers will have a message board associated with it. In fact, every single page in the database, including consoles, franchises, games, objects, characters, people, and concepts will all have a friendly message board right at the bottom. But don't worry about getting lost or missing out on a conversation. Messages from all boards are easily found in our forum index.
This extract of course excludes the instructions, but they're fairly obvious anyway.

So now, we begin the Bomb Watch. I have arranged for my browser (Firefox 3, Mac OS X 10.5.4, a rock slid and generally excellent browser and platform) set up to reload Giant Bomb (dot) com at set intervals, so excited am I to get into the site.

Unfortunately, I'm also way too excited. I'm afraid to sleep in case I miss it. I mean, even tonight, I really don't want to risk it, even though I'm almost 100% the site won't launch until something like 6PM BST on Monday the 21st of July (At the earliest).

And so, for as long as I'm awake, I'm going to be updating round the clock. I'll Tweet status updates at regular intervals and come the launch, I'll tweet my progress registering, then writeup impressions of the site her on All Your Time.

And yes, I fully intend to contribute as much as I can to anything Disney-Related (Exception: Chronicles of Narnia, we'll get to that little mistake someday).

Speaking of, how awesome does Pure look? For some reason, I'm all-the-way pumped for that game. Maybe cos it's a Disney-made insane off-road racer. We all know I love Disney and Excite Truck, Pure combines them. Naturally, I'll be nabbing the 360 version.

Anywho, where was I? Oh yes, The Bomb. I gotta tell ya, I really need this site. As it stands, the only gaming community I frequent is all but dead in the sections I read. I mean, I visit 1Up and GameSpot, but not their communities (Forums). 1Up's folks were very hostile (Generally, they were some kind souls) to those of us displaced from GameSpot (The site as a whole, not just the forums) after The 29th. GameSpot's forums I just found insular and not very fun.

Wow, I really want to make a movie about Gerstmann-gate...It's a great story for the screen. I saw a YouTube video which recast a JFK (One of my all-time favourie movies) trailer as a traler for JFG, a ficticious movie about Gerstmann-gate (Using JFK footage and dialogue for illustrative purposes), and it was very cool. I definitely think Jeff's story would be good for the screen.

Perhaps a book first, that's howit typically works...Oh well. If it's not been done by the time I can do it, I will. If anyone else is planning to do it and wants help (Writing, directing, any creative stuff really) drop me a line, I have some ideas how it could work.

Anyway, I'm rambling. Onward to The Bomb!

Jens Has Blown

19 July 2008

Special Advanced Preview

Here it is folks, the first publicly available Multiplayer Magazine material. This is Beta 0.2 of the Cover Layout, and I'm making it avilable for public viewing as of today for the sake of feedback, just drop me a line at jensonb (at) me (dot) com or jensonb (at) mac (dot) com.

Click Here

Meanwhile, I'm finalising internal notes on the Review Layout and you can possibly hope to see that soon too.

I'm also prepared to reveal that the Multiplayer Magazine website is going to be powered by Joomla and, to support our focus on community, we will be integrating a Kickapps Social Network, comprising message boards, blogs, photo sharing, video sharing and more. many of these features are also very helpful for our needs (Sharing content).

Lastly, I'm ready to reveal the format for the (As yet) untitled video show I'm going to be putting into production. The show will primarily involve me goign through the week's gaming news - lampooning both it and the coverage. Think of it as The Daily Show, but with gaming coverage. It will also play host to viewer submissions, ala Multiplayer Magazine.

Jens Out

Electronic Three

Well I have to say this year was much better than last year, but the world is still poorer for not having the ability to watch 26 hours of Rich Gallup. Seriously, that guy could be the host of a show about paint drying and I'd watch.

Luckily, Giant Bomb, the world's best video games website supplied the required dosage of crazy fun E3 coverage. The podcasts and videos they posted essentially made Giant Bomb a lot like being with friends at E3, which is of course The Bomb's style - we're all friends here.

Despite some attempts from IGN to steal my "Live Coverage" viewership, in the end I opted to stick with GameSpot. Eckberg, KVO, Rabara, Thorson, RyMac and soem of the others put on a pretty good show, but someone please do something about Kristin Riley. That girl is insufferable.

1Up receives a commendation for their topnotch text-based coverage. I was using their news page as essentially a wire service whilst watching the show at the 'Spot. That said, I preferred their older news frontpage, from before they used a Blog to power it. Ah well, you can't have everything.

As to the actual content...Seems like the publishers want E3 to die. The Platform holders each had some fairly interesting stuff (New Dashboard, several interesting games from SCE and Nitnendo are finally putting out a microphone), but neither they nor the third parties really showed a "wow, holy shit, that looks awesome" title. It's all singles and doubles, where are the home runs?

Highlights for me are Pure, MAG, DC Universe Online, Portal: Still Alive, Animal Crossing: City Folk (w/ Wii Speak), Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, GTA: Chinatown Wars, Guitar Hero: World Tour, Far Cry 2, Left 4 Dead and Geometry Wars: Retro Revolved 2. There are probably others, but whatever.

Konami, what the hell? Silent Hill and Castlevania? Singles and doubles, kids. Where's the home runs? For you, home run means: Metal GEAR!!!

So anyway, this looks like the last E3. All signs point to an untimely demise. For one thing, the banner saying "See you next year"? Missing. For another, I've already pointed out a lack of tentpole announcements. E3 as it stands is unimportant, small and is less and less unique all the time.

I for one loved the good old days of too little sleep, people runnign around a massive and spectacular show floor shwoing off awesome games. Yeah, maybe it was a bit hectic and hard to cover, but it's only for three days kids, you can do it.

You could also restore E3 to its former glory and still make it easier to cover, lemme tell you how:

Keep it invite-only, but make it big again. You could allow some more elaborate displays, make it more engaging, but still restrict attendees - you wouldn't need to limit them as much though. You could get senior retail people back for example, a sector conspicuous by absence this year.

Here's hoping that E3 does stay, even if it is a shadow of its former glory.

Jens Out

18 July 2008

Player 2: Press Start

I've just finalised Beta 0.1 of the Multiplayer Magazine reviews format, using Resistance 2 (Though I had to use the original Resistance's boxart) as an example. It took some time because with this one I was making some of the overarching internal content formating decisions, which I had to be sure on.

Synchro LET has increased significance and it looks awesome, it has officially been adopted as the Multiplayer font and it pervades throughout the magazine wherever appropriate, creating strong brand recognition and looking sweet.

Futura has been demoted to the cover font and Short Content font internally, body text is being displayed in Helvetica, with 15 being the standard size.

In GizzedUp I made use of compartmentalising and right angles to divide content. Multiplayer is making use of rounded corners, and shapes only have visible outlines if they are important. Typically, a shpe is just a block of colour. Notably, image captions extend slightly below the image (Seamlessly) and feature rounded corners on the bottom.

Soon, I'll be showing off the current Beta of the cover (Version 0.2 at the moment, I might be showing 0.3 if I make any chnages) and revealign the Review Guidelines, which will explain how we're gonna score games and also reveal what we're doing instead of "Area Scores" or "Medals and Demerits"/"Good Points and Bad Points".

Jens Out

Pinging you

Hey guys, sorry I missed the blogging my impressions of the conferences. I was going to move it all to Tuesday, but I had to wait to watch the Sony and Nintendo ones and I didn't get to do so until I got up earlier.

I'll be posting instead about my impressions of all E3 on Friday. I'll get to it either between the two F1 Practice Sessions or after the second one. As a tiny preview: there's nothing I'm absolutely pumped to hell for...Like, at all. Certainly nothing new. Not that there's nothing new I want, just nothing has me as excited as some of last year's stuff.

My MobileMe code came and I'm now a full subscriber, so that's pretty cool. It's a nice service, I like being able to get at my stuff on my Mac, in a browser or on my iPod. Speaking of my Mac, I had a few software problems, but I managed to fix them just by trashing some files. Very happy, in Windows I'd probably have had to reinstall the OS.

Speaking of Windows, the box is gone. My only computer is the Mac mini, my favourite of all the computers I've owned, followed closely by the Eee of course. With it's 750GB external Hard Drive, iTunes and EyeTV (Which is fantastic by the way) it's also a fantastic Media Centre, an entertainment powerhouse.

But without my PC, my consoles are gonna be my focus in terms of gaming. Yes folks, that's right, another player has abandoned the PC Platform. And I'll tell you why: it doesn't work. Games are increasingly supposed to be a pervasive expereince, PC just fails to deliver that.

So, to ensue I have access to games not available on the Wii, I'm getting a 360, as you know. Torturously, I'm relatively certain I have to wait until I get my GCSE results and to make that worse...I got given a copy of Unreal Tournament 3. Which I really want to play.

It's agonising, seriously.

I saw Hancock the other day, and as I expected, that film kicked ass. I loved it, Hancock is officially my second favourite super hero behind Spider-Man now, it's that good. Only thing is, it's crying out for a game.

Someone needs to get on that.

Jens Out

12 July 2008

Happy Days People

That Prom? Kicked ass. But then, if you follow me on Twitter or MySpace, then you probably knew I thought that. It's re-energised me in the best way. Between the best night of my life and the love of my life, I'm happier than I've ever been. And I've changed a bit, for the better.

Mainly, I'm much more a social animal now. Which means my already growing preoccupation with social media has ballooned. I'm going to start blogging and Tweeting about life in general a bit more, but don't worry, I'm still a geek so technology won't be disappearing from the Blog.

On that note, I have updated my iPod touch to 2.0 and put a load of Apps on it. I'm bowled over, it's absolutely fantastic. I can't recommend Twittelator enough by the way, excellent mobile Twitter client - and on iPhone it saves you the cost of a text. Can't be bad, eh?

That I suppose is another example of the social media thing. I also happen to have MySpace Mobile and iFob on there. Of course you know what MySpace is. iFob is a vaguely similar location-based social network allowing peple to interact because they're near. This includes messaging and photo-viewing and shizz.

All very neat. I'm also quite fond of Apple's "Remote" which allows me to control iTunes (Or an Apple TV) from he iPod touch from anywhere in the house using the iPod touch iPod App style. This App is also able to switch between different iTunes copies, so with it you can live the total home thatre control dream today.

I ordered my copy of MobileMe...Well, my activation key I mean. Speaking of which, I've already started to use the Me.com web apps and they're excellent. Very pretty, very high-quality. You cna now hit me up at jensonb (at) mac (dot) com or jensonb (at) me (dot) com.

I also have it set up on my iPod and I must say it was a wonderfully simple process.

E3 is this coming week, I'll be blogging my impressions of the major press briefings (Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony) so look for that Monday and Tuesday.

I think that's all for now. If I think of anything else, I'll post again

Jens Out

09 July 2008

Talking Smack

Hey Sony, looks like we're gonna get another preview of PlayStation Home at E3. I eman, I don't care, do whatever you want, it's of little interest to me, but aren't you even slightly embarassed that you annonced this thing in early '07 for an October that year release and this is it's second E3, 2008 and current info suggests that you'll only get the Beta out this year, maybe?

Dude, whatever.

And how about you Microsoft? Doesn't it make you feel a little embarrassed that your console ships without Wi-Fi? Toasters have Wi-Fi these days. In order to get the 360 to have Wi-Fi, you want me to spend £55 on a dongle. These things cost like £20 for PCs. Are you freaking kidding me? There's a way to get my Mac to share its internet connection with the 360. It's convuluted, but you bet your ass I'm trying that before buying your POS peripheral for £55 - apparently it's not even a very good dongle.

This is especially weak because your USP is Xbox LIVE, industry standard online gaming service.

And Nintendo...For God's sake...Make your online system fun. All we want is oemthing akin to Xbox LIVE. Doesn't need to be as feature-rich. Just give us account names, not numbers. Let me accept adds, rather than adding back. Give us voice chat and make Animal Crossing an MMO.

You could add all this in a Wii Channel. Call it the Nintendo Player Connect Channel, something, anything. Just fix the gaming side of the Wii internet.

Talking smack is therapeutic.

Jens Out

08 July 2008

It is done then

Well, I've now finalised my plans regarding the iPhone 3G and my exam completion gift. I still intend to buy an iPhone 3G, but I only intend to do so when it becomes available on Pay/Go. And so I shall, funded by my wages from Tesco and my EMA. Contract was really not an option. I hate to wait, but O2 have forced my hand on this issue.

In the iPhone 3G's stead, my exam completion gift is to be the Halo 3 Edition Xbox 360. The effing awesome green one. This is the one I've wanted pretty much since Peter Moore raised it with one hand.

Additionally, in exchange for taking possession of my PC, my parents have bought me a 750GB USB Hard Drive and an Elgato eyeTV for DTT (TV Tuner). Two things I was going to buy myself which I now don't have to. Between those and the Xbox, my PC is redundant apart from Blu-Ray playing anyway. And I can always use the PS3 downstairs for that.

Which means my disposable income for this coming paycheck is £195...Less £59 for MobileMe and I've got £135 to spend.

And you know what? I've run out of major buys. All the big things I decided I wanted are gone (iPhone 3G excepted). So I'll buy iWork and probably try and nab MGS:TTS (Because I'm a Metal Gear freak and I simply must have a Metal Gear game I can play in my room - remember, our PS2s don't work. Long story).

But basically, from now on I'm on impulse and/or small buys until I start saving for the iPhone 3G. There's a chance that instead of iWork and MGS I'll buy a w580i this month, or do that next month if I buy the software this month, but other than that, it's uncharted territory.

I'll have to start buying my "back of the mind" wants. What I might do at some point is buy a DS Lite. That said, I'm half expecting The Reginator to reveal a new DS at E3 next week. I might buy that instead.

It's a Golden Age as far as I'm concrned.

Jens Out

PS: Oh god, I should ask the guy in the Shopping Centre about the signed Jenson Button stuff...I'll start small, with the cap or the (I don't think signed, but rare) Jenson Button F3 car...Then ask about the price of the signed 2000 Williams.

-Evil Grin-

07 July 2008

Plans

Okay, so O2 have totally effed me over here. But, I still want the iPhone and I still intend to go with Pay/Go. For that reason, I will buy one this winter by saving up for a couple of months (All it will take, my monthly income will be increasing to start at £275 come Autumn).

In the meantime, I'm going to have my parents buy me a cheaper new phone on the Tesco Mobile network. Probably the cheaper Sony Ericsson slider in white. Additionally, I'll have them buy the hard drive I have my eye on, the 750GB one. Anything left over I'll spend on a game or something, perhaps making use of my GameStation Gift Voucher (I'm praying for Twin Snakes).

That leaves me to buy my new TV Tuner and MobileMe. All told, that still leaves me with £95 after I take into account LOVEFiLM. If I don't end up with Twin Snakes, I might use some fo that for that, otherwise there's some miscellaneous stuff I've yet to buy like iWork and iTunes films.

Next month is probably my Xbox 360 in that scenario. It's gonna take over the PC's place in the VGA Switcher. But its physical location? I have no idea.

There's a chance I'll buy a DS Lite with that £95. I'm not sure, I'm just thinking about it. In that case, the 360 will be a month later and next month will be iWork and stuff.

Jens Out

So, you ever hear of these dicks called O2?

By now you've likely heard the news. iPhone 3G is not out on Pay/Go until the indistinct "Later in the year". Naturally, I'm massively pissed off. For anyone wondering what happened to the 96 Hour coverage, that is. The news I was most interested in came real early and it was bad.

I'm forced to conclude O2 doesn't like customers, or money. Odd tactic, for a business.

The following is an e-mail I sent to O2 regarding this fiasco:

From the iPhone 3G page of your Help site, under Pay & Go:
"Pay & Go will be available later this year."

It's taken you since WWDC back in mid June to finally come out and say those of us who cannot have or do not want iPhones on contracts are being left out in the cold? I'm hugely let down. I've been looking forward to the iPhone 3G launch since the phone was announced, even more since it was confirmed Pay/Go would be an option.

But for weeks, I hear nothing. Then I start to hear from friends and people online that miscellaneous sources are saying no Pay/Go on launch day, some even saying not until the Christmas season. Shortly after, I receive an e-mail from O2...Telling me they're going to send an e-mail. Which I knew. Because I told them to.

And so then we come to today. As has become my custom, I head over to O2's site for news and check my mail. There in my inbox are details of how to buy an iPhone 3G on Contract. Which irks me because I registered my interest on the Pay/Go page and for a reason. Ad on O2's site? After weeks of stringing us along, O2 ordained to reveal Pay/Go customers are being left out in the cold until , well, I still don't know. You've managed to continue to disappoint without even removing the uncertainty.

How difficult would it have been to put some clear information informing us that the iPhone 3G would not be available on Pay/Go until later, or even that the Pay/Go option may have ended up being delayed? You clearly knew it might have been, which is why you have and continue to keep the details from us. It's extremely misleading, and there's a case to be made for it being fraudulent advertising, especially if you used it to gauge consumer interest (Which, to be honest, it was used for).

But then I do know why we're being treated so unfairly.

O2 wants to force me into a Contract. Well I don't appreciate that one bit. I can't have a Contract, it has to be Pay/Go. Even if I could, I wouldn't want it. One of the biggest barriers to iPhone adoption last time around was the lack of Pay/Go. It's clear to me now that either:

A) O2 are somehow unaware of this, leading me to wonder if they listen to their customers at all, and only found out by allowing people to register their interest. I should point out again that the manner in which this was done is in the grey regions of legality.
or
B) The Pay/Go option was pre-announced with the specific intention of announcing it's indistinct delay at a later date and therefore moving some potential Pay/Go-ers to Contracts, specifically early adopters

I feel extremely let down by O2 now. O2, you have some serious sucking up to do to avoid missing out on my sale. Ever heard of the iPod touch? It's waiting in an Apple Store near me, just waiting to eat your lunch.
This is totally unacceptable. I need a new phone. I have my heart set on that phone. I don't want to wait until freaking Christmas - this is supposed to be funded in part by my parents as a treat for the end of exams. Bit bloody late come Christmas.

No, the Christmas season is not an official timeframe, just one CS Reps kept throwing out which now seems likely.

Jens is Pissed

Announcing the 96 Hour iPhone 3G Net-Based Campout

Starting at 8:02 this morning, I will be comprehensively combing the internet for every morsel of information about the iPhone 3G I can find. Everything will be aggregated here and on my Twitter feed.

So primarily, I'm donating my body to the world as a crawler for UK iPhone 3G news for the next 4 days. My main aim is to whittle through all the goddamned BS and try and find something out about the Pay/Go iPhone 3G.

I might even record some video roundups, using Screenflow to capture the internet and myself simultaneously.

So, what will be powering this crazy coverage you ask? The Mac mini will be my primary station and the one from which I follow most of the news and the one I'll be using to post about it, both here and on Twitter. Also lending a hand will be my Eee PC, serving up yet more news and allowing me to continue the quest away from the desk.

My camcorder will be recording me for the video roundups of course, my iPod touch will be handling (Some) of the entertainment I'll need to keep myself from slashing my wrists and, should the iPhone 3G actually be available on Pay/Go this Friday, my RAZR's last job will be Twittering the line at the Carphone Warehouse I'm buying from. Or, from the Cambridge Apple Retail Store (I'll explain in the morning).

That's 96 hours of iPhone coverage. Suck it Laporte :P

In all seriousness though, Leo rocks. I'm looking forward to and may well I may well join Leo's coverage of the worldwide launch if he wants me. For that, I'll take my Eee and use store Wi-Fi.

Wow, I'm gonna have to go sleep soon.

Jens Out

Welcome to Swift Kick in the Nuts

O2 is one of those companies I really want to like. They're like Sega in the Dreamcast days. Wow, this is awesome, I'm gonna use the online aspect...Not working, I'll try again...Again...Again...Baby, why you gotta make me hit you?

With O2, it goes like this:

Ooh, iPhone 3G...It gleams like the eyes of God...Ooh, a classy white one...I hope O2 put this on Pay/Go so I can get it....Ooh, they did, yay O2! Love you! Now to await the details. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Wai...Ooh, e-mail from O2! Oh...All this tells me is that they'lls end me another e-mail and that's the important one. What the fuck is this? It's like a week until launch, where is the Pay/Go info!?

And it goes on. The "leaked" pricing I posted about earlier is probably right, and I'm just about happy with those numbers. Unfortunately, we now believe the Pay/Go iPhone 3G will not launch this coming Friday. Which blows, I want my damn iPhone.

What's worse is that we believe that to be the case. We have no damned idea. O2 refuses to keep their story straight.

And so, the hate is building. It'll probably pass once I'm rocking my 6 months of free data, but I rally am annoyed. I was lookign forward to lining up for the launch of a new product, I've been waiting for years to be able to do it.

And it looks like they're taking that oppurtunity away from me.

Fail O2, just a freaking fail.

Jens Out

PS: My DV-FireWire cable came, my camcorder is now functional as a webcam.