Just got back from my second gallery event of the week — Ben Frost’s Crapitalism in Shoreditch. I’m happy to report that the event was mostly devoid of the expected Nathan Barley-types, despite the artwork’s heavy use of modern logos and pop culture imagery.
As I was walking home though, I noticed that Sony’s 3Rooms ‘brand space’ seems to have disappeared, or at least the entrance has changed. Has Sony pulled the plug on it without telling anyone?
On today’s GameSpot UK podcast, we did away with printing off all the competition entries and just randomly chose them on my laptop instead. This prompted me to look at our green website SmartPlanet, and in between reading about ethically-sourced chocolate I found a rather cool map of our shared offices. Although the river Thames is slightly sludgier than the whale-filled utopia depicted below, I like the way it’s laid out and will probably use it to direct future visitors to our offices.
Today, I headed to Brighton to visit two development houses that were born in the city. Relentless Software are probably best known for the Buzz! series, of which I’m a huge fan, while Black Rock Studio is behind Pure, which is looking like it could be the sleeper hit of the winter.
We managed to see how the Buzz! team is currently expanding on the first PS3 game with PlayStation Eye features, allowing people to take photos as they beat people around the world. Then it was 100m down the road to Black Rock, with their very impressive new racing game Pure. As a fan of stunt-based racers like Motorcross Madness, I can’t wait to play more of this incredibly polished racer.
Aside from the seeing the games, it was great to spend the day hanging out in a game-making environment. Relentless and Black Rock may be close enough to see into each other’s windows, but they’re very different companies too. Relentless has enjoyed massive success making casual games, and perhaps reflecting this emerging market, the studio imposes a strict 9-5 working day for its employees. Black Rock, personally selected by Disney head Robert Iger to push the company further into the videogame market, has a more traditional feel but still retains an element of fun. There’s free ice cream on hand, toys in the meeting rooms, and Black Rock-branded sweets in the form of…well, black sticks of rock. They are in Brighton, after all.
What both teams had in common though was a genuine sense of passion and energy for their respective titles–these are definitely places we could have spent longer at. Finally, it was great to see GameSpot user WillMorkai join us for the Relentless visit, who won after entering a competition on our forums. Relentless spent time explaining game development to Will, and they seemed to be genuinely interested in discovering his opinions about the games market. As a potential games programmer, I wouldn’t be surprised if young Will finds himself at Relentless Software again sometime in the future.
In short, it’s days like these that make you glad you’re working in the games industry. Our Brighton special edition of Start/Select will be up on Friday, so stay tuned for our full interviews with these two leading studios. In the meantime, here are some photos I took of the day.
I spent a good majority of my day today playing through Wipeout HD on the PlayStation 3. The game plays really well, with improved handling since I encountered it earlier in the year. I’d say I made it about halfway through the single-player campaign during the day, the highlight of which was becoming the number one ranked player in the world in a number of races. Sadly, I doubt that will last even ten minutes once the game is released later this month.
Anyway, I took a number of videos as I was playing, so ahead of the review, gorge yourself on some of these rather fine videos for a taste of the finished game.
Sony’s PlayTV arrived in the office a while back and I was lucky enough to give it a whirl ahead of its release. Aside from an ugly box and a lack of a PSP transfer facility, I like PlayTV, and if I had a PS3 I would definitely check it out. In-depth impressions will be going up on GameSpot shortly, but in the meantime here’s a video I captured during testing.
I am a writer and broadcaster specialising in video games and technology, and the resident video game expert on BBC 5 live and Sky News. My work has appeared in Wired, The Independent and The Telegraph, and I regularly comment for outlets such as CNN, Yahoo! and The Metro.