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SHEETBIKE Blog

Wut?Pout 2048.

The VITA hit shelves worldwide last night. Here's a picture from the midnight launch on London's Oxford Street.

Photobucket

That, if you are wondering, is Ami Ledger. She's a developer on Wipeout 2048.

You know what a developer is - they're the smart people that make games happen. The talented ones we owe our respect.

So why is she posing in a skin-tight catsuit (during Winter) instead of, oh I don't know, signing copies of the game in her own clothes, exactly?

If she's lovely, that's great. Let her be lovely. Just please for the love of god let people realise she's lovely in addition to respecting her for being a developer in an already testosterone heavy industry.

Because I guarantee more than a few people will have walked into that shop and assumed she was just some model, and that doesn't seem fair to me.

My beard

Hello!

This is the strangest blog post I have ever had to write.

Last weekend I shaved my beard off. It's caused quite a stir for something attached to my face, which is touching in a weird sort of way. Anyway, since so many people have mentioned it, I have taken the liberty of answering some beard FAQs below. I hope they prove enlightening.

Seriously, weirdest blog post ever.

1. YOUR BEARD IS GONE

Not really a question, but I take your point - yes, my beard is gone. I shaved it off. I was sad to do it.

2. BUT IF YOU WERE SAD, WHY DID YOU DO IT?

This weekend I am acting in a short film, and the character is clean shaven. They say it's good to suffer for one's art, and I've been suffering a cold face for about a week now.

3. ARE YOU GROWING IT BACK?

Yes. Immediately. Even as I type this, in fact. It'll take about 2 months, maybe 3.

4. WHAT'S THE SHORT FILM?

It's a short I wrote a couple of years ago and have been working on ever since. It's called Nothing Too Heavy Handed. When it's finished, I will gladly share it with you all. Watch this space.

5. HAVE YOU LOST ALL YOUR POWERS NOW?

I can still edit video and tie my own shoelaces, so it looks like I'm all good. No power loss, unless you count having a beard as a power.

6. OK THANKS

You're welcome.

I hope this has been an enlightening experience. As an added bonus, please enjoy this silly video I made to make myself feel better about shaving.

Civil what now?

Hello!

Just a quick one as I've got an edit to start for today's Start/Select. We're doing a feature based on Skyrim and something occurred to me earlier - nobody who plays Skyrim in the GameSpot UK office has so much as touched the civil war questline. Some have an idea of who they may end up joining (I'll probably go Imperial cause the Stormcloaks are racist, for instance. Seb meanwhile plans to go Stormcloak as he's still bitter about the Imperials trying to behead him at the start of the game), but generally nobody seems to give a damn.

General consensus in the office seems to be that both factions are jerks, so while most of us have clocked 60+ hours in Skyrim each, nobody's decided to get stuck into the civil conflict.


Is it the same for you lot, or are we just unusually a-political?

Also, the game makes kind of a big deal of the civil war being a thing in Skyrim - what does it say about the game that nobody can be bothered to back a side? I know it's supposed to be an open affair, allowing the player to make their own way in the world, but it seems like Bethesda took it a bit further than they meant to - i.e. they managed to include two equally unlikeable warring factions?

The stormcloaks aresnappier dressers, though...

A thing

I am making a thing. Here is a preview of the thing.

Cool points if you can guess the thing. Hint: my hands are the wrong way round.

Ladders

Hello.

Every week, amongst other things, I work on GameSpot's mobile gaming show Appetite for Distraction. If you've not seen it, here's a behind the scenes video.

Now you may have noticed in that video there's a bit of ladder climbing involved, which brings me to this blog post, and the following question:

How did every single video game character in history get so flaming good at climbing ladders?

Seriously, every last one of them just swans up and down ladders all game long as if it's what they were born doing.

I know it's probably to do with the animation process - why generate a massively varied ladder climbing animation when you can just loop the action - but ladder climbing just isn't that easy. It isn't.

I've been popping up to the roof for a while now and I'll admit I've made progress. In fact I've improved to the point I think I'm quite speedy provided I don't have too much kit on my back, but still - Mario's got me beat from the original Donkey Kong, and he's morbidly obese.

BAH.

(Fun bonus: these guys, unlike me, are badass)

Help me help you have a good time!

Hello!

Happy new year all, hope you had a restful break. I did, and I've come back determined to make 2012 a bigger, better year for video. That sounds so clichéed I'm going to slam my hand in a desk drawer after I've posted this, but first please let me try to explain why I said it.

I'm proud to be part of what I think is quite a tight-knit video team here in London. We produce a lot of stuff and have fun doing it, but most importantly we talk to each other. We'll watch each other's edits before they go up on the site, and it's quite common to hear someone say 'I like this bit, but have you considered doing it like this?' More often than not we get a better video at the end of it.

Every now and then, however, one encounters a video and simply says 'wow I wish I had that idea.' That's pretty much how I reacted when I saw Danny's 'year in the life of a gamer' video. I've pasted it below in case you missed it.

Anyway, rather than get despondent or, oh I dunno, have Danny assassinated, I've decided to come at 2012 with renewed energy and make a better video editor out of myself. I'm reading some film textbooks so I look smarter, too. What I want to know from you is where you think this new energy should be directed. What aren't we doing that we ought to be? What do we do now that you think could be improved?

I can't promise we'll be able to implement every suggestion - pig wrestling is technically illegal here, for instance - but I'm certainly eager to hear your thoughts. Please leave me a comment below and point this blog at anyone you think might have something to contribute - even if it is just a petition for me to get rid of my stupid beard.

Thank you.

Johnny.

Skirt-rim?

In the year of our lord 1993, Manchester based rock band James released the song Laid, featuring these lyrics:

Dressed me up in womens clothes,

messed around with gender roles,

dye my eyes and call me pretty (EEEEeeeeeeee eeeee… )

If you haven't heard it, give it a go - it's a nice little tune. Here's a link, stick it on in the background while you read the rest of this.

Anyway, I brought it up because that song popped into my head this morning, then came back to me during a conversation about Skyrim.

We've got some advance code in the office, and so I've just started out on my journey through Skyrim as the Dragonborn. This naturally led to a conversation about what races different people in the GameSpot UK office were picking, and what gender they picked.

Personally, after a prolonged period of deliberation, I decided to go for a male imperial. I initially thought I'd play as a wood elf, but they looked a bit much like popular children's character Oaky Doke, and that freaked me out a bit.

Oaky Doke

I was also extremely tempted to play through as a woman, as that's what I'd done with Bethesda's Fallout: New Vegas (to which I will return shortly). Ultimately though I opted for a man - a decision I think was predominantly made for me by the ad campaign.

Let me explain - as a video producer, it's pretty much guaranteed you'll edit more than a couple of videos about each AAA title in the run up to its release. Generally this means you'll end up editing with the same trailer(s) over and over again. With Dragon Age II for instance, it was this one

The result of which being when I got my hands on the game and started playing, I didn't alter my Hawke. At all. With the exception of changing my class to rogue, I didn't touch any of the customisation features, because I already had him fixed as the protagonist in my head.

With Fallout New Vegas on the other hand, the ad campaign was more about, well, headshots than anything else, so I felt a lot more free to toy with the character customisation. Knowing it would alter how NPCs behaved toward me, I decided to try the game out as a woman, and ended up really enjoying myself. I liked the different character interactions, and Benny seemed like more of a tragic figure than I think he would have had I played as some super macho guy.

Playing through New Vegas I felt like I was in control of a strong, feminine character, and crucially didn't find the experience seedy. I felt it was pitched extremely well, and allowed me to enjoy the experience free from any pre-conceived ideas of how I 'should' have been playing the game.

Yet somehow as I sat there in Skyrim's customisation menu, flicking the slider from male to female and back again, I found myself with a growing feeling I couldn't really pick a female character - and I think that's largely down to the adverts.

In all the trailers released so far for Skyrim, the main character has been a male one - indeed if one were approaching the franchise entirely cold, it wouldn't be at all obvious that one could play as a woman. Granted it also doesn't show off any of the races on offer, but thanks to the big horned helmet, the exact race of the trailers' Dragonborn is relatively ambiguous.

What isn't ambiguous is that it's a man. The beard, the voice, even the booming choral soundtrack (which is awesome, by the way) all scream MANLY TIMES at the viewer - the end result being when I was designing my character, I ultimately went 'nah, Dragonborn is a MAN.'

Some Publishers of course do take steps to try and accommodate the female contingent in their advertising campaigns. However, as was the case with the Mass Effect 3's Femshep voting, this can often just come off as tasteless more than anything else. Phwoaar, Femshep et cetera.

Now, it's entirely possible I'm just spineless. Maybe I'm just highly susceptible to adverts. I think working in games journalism we get sometimes get exposed more consistently to advertising campaigns than most, but then they are designed to influence our opinions on the product in question.

Anyone else feel like ad campaigns can sometimes limit the way we approach a title, as much as they get us excited for them?

Ahh you think you're so pretteeeeeEEEEEEEEEeeeeeee...

EDIT: Perception of Dragonborn as giant manly man further enforced since publication by appearance of Dragonborn as giant manly man in office.

HOOAH

UFC PT Challenge: Post the firsthe

Now then.

For about as long as I can remember, I've had a bit of a spare tyre. I used to think of it as puppy fat but, well, I'm in my twenties now. That excuse doesn't really fly any more.

So, when Guy, Seband Alexsigned up for MCV's UFC Personal Trainer challenge, I figured it was win-win. Either get a bit fitter, or get fitter and win a trip to Vegas. So I sent off an email and jumped on the scales.

It was at this point I discovered to my horror that I'd already given myself a bit of a head start. See, when I joined GameSpot UK about four months ago, my commute doubled in length. With the extra cycling to and from the office, I managed to shed a stone and a half without noticing.

And it all counts for nothing.

A quick change in tactics ensued - this challenge was no longer about weight loss, but toning up. I decided my only chance at victory lies in shredding the remaining fat on my abs and getting some definition on those bad boys. It sounds simple, but there are three key obstacles in my way. Namely:

1) I don't have sufficient space to use Kinect at home. Seriously, there just isn't room. It's stinking up the GameSpot UK games room or nothing.

2) I don't enjoy 'feeling the burn'

3) My girlfriend enjoys baking, and she's REALLY good at it.

I made some changes to my diet straight away - mostly just being careful about what I eat and when I eat it. Fish has become far more prominent in my diet, and I've cut out a lot of carbs. Unlike Guy I haven't cut out booze entirely, but I'm avoiding beer and sticking to spirits (I'm a big whisky fan so this is no hardship).

When the game turned up, I was really keen to give it a go, despite the massive window in the games room permitting everyone in the building to see me flailing like an idiot. By the end of my first session though, I was fairly demoralised and more than a little irritated. Most of that irritation, I'll admit, comes from me simply not enjoying many Kinect titles. while some are blindingly brilliant, I tend to find the kinect experience pretty patronising. While I found the trainer surprisingly motivating at first (particularly with the calls for extra reps), the fact it will often fail to register, say, a completed push up, very quickly got to me. The game ended up treating me like an idiot despite it actually being the thick one in the room.

Also, (and this next bit is also going to sound fairly pretentious,) I have reservations about it as a martial artist. I've been doing karatefor twelve years now, and was intrigued by the prospect of an MMA themed fitness title. In my first strike the mitts challenge, however, I had to adopt a really shoddy technique in order to get kinect to register the reps. As a result, I got less out of the exercise than if I was just training by myself - not ideal. I know I'll be in the minority having this reservation but, being an avid fan of martial arts, I consider myself to be more or less the target audience, which is slightly disconcerting given the execution.

In short, I feel THQ have made a good game with a decent structure and I have every intention on pursuing it over the rest of the challenge - I just wish it didn't rely quite so heavily on something which (let's face it) is still a fairly fledgling piece of technology.

That said, I ammaking headway. I've lost 2KG in the past two weeks, which was unexpected - I'm now under 11st for the first time in about six years. I've also noticed I recover far more easily from exercise - generally I expect to feel stiff the day after I train, but I feel fine. This in turn has let me increase my training further, which is immensely satisfying. I've noticed a very slight increase in my strength, but mostly I'm just focusing on parting with that childhood friend of mine, mr spare tyre...

Voice acting sez wut?

This morning I've been editing together various bits of video from Deus Ex Human Revolution (about which I am stupidly excited, by the way), and it got me thinking -

Given the voice he has, it's a bloody good thing Adam Jensen is a cybernetically enhanced futuristic badass.

Let me explain: game trailers are pretty formulaic, particularly with action heavy titles. You get a few wide pans of the game world to ease you in, then comes the voiceover. This is designed to briefly introduce the protagonist's struggle / get you on side, and nine times out of ten that voiceover is so gravelly you could lay a driveway with it. Not that that's a bad thing, indeed, it's how you know they're BAD. ASS.

If you're bringing out a Call of Duty title that's when you then hit the audience with a rolling stones track or other such balls-out extravagance, but i digress.With all this über macho belming, I can't help but wonder if Adam Jensen would really be capable of doing anything butdrinkin', smokin' and annihilatin' an entire security team with his nifty elbow swords. I mean really, try and imagine him doing a menial job.

"Hello, I'd like a cheeseburger please"

"DO YOU WANT FRIES WITH THAT?"

"Erm....no, actually I don't think I'm hungry any more, I might just...go. Nice metal arms though."

Now, I'll say again I'm not complaining -I like these voices, they let me know who's a sissy, and who would rather punch through my spine to reach something behind me than ask me to move. The whole thing's just got me mulling over a chicken / egg question: does the voice create the bad-assery, or is it being a badass that makes them talk like one?

Look at the late great Don La Fontaine, a.k.a. movie voice over guy. His voice was so intensely cool they couldn't NOT give him a hardcore film job. His destiny was literally woven into his vocal chords (check him out here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QPMvj_xejg).

However, just LOOK at solid snake - his voice got deeper and more gravelly as he made the transition to old snake for metal gear solid four. Undoubtedly caused by years of sneaking around hiding in cardboard boxes. (See here:http://www.gamespot.com/ps3/adventure/metalgearsolid4/video/6174329)

I'm genuinely stumped on this one - does the voice make the badass or does the badass make the voice?

Either way, back to work...

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