Dec 25

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Category: Uncategorized

Merry Christmas one and all

And yes, i do plan to post more often, just that recently I havent really had much to comment on

(and in my humble opinion the Closing of TR, although is newsworthy, i feel it could be better managed with a retrospective look ONCE it closes for good)

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Oct 5

Starchaser: The Legend Of Orin (and other stuff)

Category: Films/TV, Uncategorized

Ok, this is an interesting movie.

I have to admit, i had *NEVER* heard of this film until a friend of mine bought it over last weekend when he visited me.

Knowing of my liking of 80’s movies AND also Sci-Fi in general he got me to sit down to watch it.

Boy was I in for a shock.

The film is a pretty good rip-off of StarWars in terms of plot (then again Star Wars *isnt* all that original when you think about it), but what got me though is that they even went as far as to use alot of the original (or so it appears) sound FX from Starwars (ranging from the Laser blasts, to the sound of the ships flying past).

Talking of the ships though, they are REALLY well animated considering when the film was made… actually the animation in general *is* good, although the colors of the film havnt held up as the years have progressed. From what i can find out, they actually used computer models to animate the space ships and then drew over the results (a form of rotoscoping, that had earlier been used in The Lord Of The Rings (animated version)). The animation of the actual characters though ranges from very good, to saturday morning cartoon quality. There are moments of real “they HAD to have an actor in for that part” area’s whilst others make you think that they used a blind animator…

Anyway, for some strange reason, I am going to off and watch the film again (once I get round to catching up with Heroes/Stargate Atlantis/Sanctuary/Sarah Connor Chronicles and a few other series >.> )

BTW, Stargate Atlantis just got interesting again, even though its only got another 10 episodes left in it :(

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Sep 16

Ticket Booked

Category: Uncategorized

Yep, got my train ticket booked.

See the NCsoft guys on the friday and saturday to say my goodbyes to those who are leaving the company.

Tears shall be shed, alcohol shall be drunk, and there shall be a LOT of talking as well.

Gangrel off for now.

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Sep 12

Walking around in a daze

Category: Uncategorized

Still trying to get my head around what has happened in the past few days….

Not sure what to think.

Anger, Hate?
Remorse, Lose?

Pretty sure it will come to me though.

Gangrel

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Sep 10

Jobs gone from Ncsoft Europe

Category: Uncategorized

Holy Cow…. what a turn up for the books here.

Yesterday one of the (UK) gaming industry websites, gamesindustry.biz posted up a nice “rumours” article saying that NCsoft were planning to trim its European office by about 50 people. And also closing down Tabula Rasa(Link to article)

Hmmm something sounds a bit strange here though…. sounds vagualy similar to the news reports a few months ago, concerning the Austin based studios of NCsoft, Destination Games and also NCsofts OWN studio). Destination Games got away with no losses at that point in time, although the Dungeon Runners team lost 13 out of their 18 members.

Soooooo, that brings us forward to this time, just around a month later.

We hear the rumours again… although on another side of the pond.

Hmmm. What is happening?
Is it true?
Is it a lie?
Is it just very bad journalism?

Well about all i can say is that there is SOME truth to the rumours.

People have been laid off, including long term employees for NCsoft Europe. Probably the largest one is the redundancy of Stephen “Rockjaw” Reid. Others that i will assume have been let go are Chris “Aero” Siddall and James “Spaff” Spafford. He was the leader of the Creative Concepts team, so when he went.. chances are the rest have been let go as well.

On top of that there is also the “reassignment” of Customer Support (only 7 positions available), the Developers team (which IF i remember correctly, also had an ex Community Person in (Bridger) ), and just a couple of of marketing and sales people.

Then there are the “potentially” redundant people as well.

Damn, its must be hard.

Right now I have soo many emotions running through my head (hey it happens sometimes, I do have a heart)….

Let me just run through from my VERY hazy memory how and when i met the “creative concepts” team.

Rockjaw
November 2005. Brighton. Cold, wet and a comic book convention. Well at least this was something new for me. Meeting for the first time MANY numerous people who i have spent hours talking to on the phone, seen on webcam, argued with/butted heads against on forums. Nothing stranger than having about 50 odd players (geeks maybe) waiting in a high class hotel for “Le Rockjaw” to appear. And then the pubcrawl starts.

And then the “invite only” staff party on the saturday night.

And a VERY nice interview with Rockjaw and Bridger talking about how they got into the industry and more (belive it or not, Rockjaw has done A LOT, including working for Sony).

Then there is all of the other stuff that he has done. Alot of work for “Draw The World Together” along with Andrew Wildman (original artist for Optimus Prime in the comics). Player meet ups, going to events… just generally being an “All round NICE GUY”.

Who also has his own blog. http://totheblogmobile.com I would generally say its not going to be TOO nice over there anytime soon.

James “Spaff” Spafford
Nutter. That is all I can say personally. The one guy (next to Kerensky) who i wanted to steal their “Auto Assault” shirt from… very nice with flames and more. Shame i havnt been able to “bug” you as much i would like to bug others.

Chris “Aero” Siddall
The “new boy” on the block. From what i can remember, he was a player who actually applied for NCsoft as an intern… and actually turned down the HIGHER paying job to work for Mr Reid. Also a pretty good Guitar Hero player from what I can tell, and a generally all round nice boy, who is willing to listen to people and work himself *almost* to death

Here is what Mr Reid says about his Creative team

Chris ‘Aero’ Siddall: Creative Concepts Assistant. Ex-player. Ex-intern. Composer. Podcast editor. Sits on my left.

James ‘Spaff’ Spafford: Creative Concepts… person (officially, Content Writer, but he admits it’s not very accurate for his wide range of duties…). Ex… erm… Content Writer. Ex-Auto Assault Community Coordinator. Gamer. Bon vivant. Sits behind me.”

Oh, and the Creative Concepts team also game up with and did the “Quest For GC” series of videos (GC Videos and other related stuff here)

Feck, now I don’t have the opportunity to watch more videos.

Ok, granted i can understand (within reason) the dismissal of several people… but when the NCsoft Europe team have been working hard to keep the players happy its even harder to do it. Especially when they worked so hard to bring the PLAYERS together. To allow the players to meet and mingle at official events.

Memorabilia in Birmingham, Bristol Comic Book Convention, the Omega Sektor Event to name just a few. Hell these guys would go out on their OWN spare time to attend events that YOU, the PLAYERS created. Either ingame or in the real world.

These weren’t just normal people, they worked above and beyond their call of duty (which granted is probably dictated by the work ethic of Stephen Reid as well).

To all those that have gone, I am willing to listen to you guys, and you can vent your frustrations here whenever you want.

If you need someone to talk to…. then you can always get in touch (ask people around in the office for my email and they will give it to you). Facebook is another way.

Anyway…

All the best, and i for one know that the loss of the creative concepts team will affect the community in more ways than one over the next coming months (less events for starters).

Gangrel signing out… kicking MSN into submission as it stopped working as soon as i started writing this blog.

1 comment

Sep 1

Gamers Bill of Rights…

Category: Games

Stardock (the marvelous people that have brought us softwarer such as Windowblinds and the game Sins of a Solar Empire), and games developer Gas Powered Games (Dungeon Siege, Supreme Commander) have come up with a Bill Of Rights for gamers.

  1. Gamers shall have the right to return games that don’t work with their computers for a full refund.
  2. Gamers shall have the right to demand that games be released in a finished state.
  3. Gamers shall have the right to expect meaningful updates after a game’s release.
  4. Gamers shall have the right to demand that download managers and updaters not force themselves to run or be forced to load in order to play a game.
  5. Gamers shall have the right to expect that the minimum requirements for a game will mean that the game will adequately play on that computer.
  6. Gamers shall have the right to expect that games won’t install hidden drivers or other potentially harmful software without their express consent.
  7. Gamers shall have the right to re-download the latest versions of the games they own at any time.
  8. Gamers shall have the right to not be treated as potential criminals by developers or publishers.
  9. Gamers shall have the right to demand that a single-player game not force them to be connected to the Internet every time they wish to play.
  10. Gamers shall have the right that games which are installed to the hard drive shall not require a CD/DVD to remain in the drive to play.

Now lets go through these step by step (my own opinions of course, yours might differ)

1. Gamers shall have the right to return games that don’t work with their computers for a full refund.
Cant fault this one. Having worked in computer game retail, i have had to refuse refunds for people who said that it didnt work on their machine, and i didnt know if they were lieing or not. More often than not, these games ALSO had a serial key attatched to it, so that made it harder to work out if it had been installed or not. Retailers should be able to request replacement keys with minimal issues from the publisher to make this easier as well. Of course, then you are hoping that the person hasn’t copied the game and stolen the registration key

2. Gamers shall have the right to demand that games be released in a finished state.
Indeed they should be. Games released shouldnt require patching at release to be in a playable state. This includes MMORPG’s as well. The game should be playable and “complete” at launch. MMO’s are typically more guilty of this than other games, but even so they still crop up (Championship Manager 2004 springs to mind, where you could win a game 3-0 and the computer would still mark that down as a lose in the league tables o.O)

3. Gamers shall have the right to expect meaningful updates after a game’s release.
Harder one to comment here, because if a game is released “complete” then there might not be any extra content available to be released for it. Some genres are naturally harder to “add to” than others. This could be the start of episodic content (maybe for a fee), along similar lines to Sam And Max currently. MMORPG’s are typically excluded from this list, as they do require new content to be created on a (semi) regular basis to keep the subscribers happy (City of Hero’s, Tabula Rasa, World of Warcraft). Guild Wars is strange as Nightfall and Factions are “standalone expansions” ie they work by themselve BUT also add to the original game

4. Gamers shall have the right to demand that download managers and updaters not force themselves to run or be forced to load in order to play a game.
Hmm this is a hard one…. for OFFLINE games, i totally agree with it, but for online gaming though, it is part and parcel of the experience as patches are released that might smooth things out for the general gamer (and correct imbalances). Having the download manager present though (but not compulsary to use) would be better than having to search for your own source of the patch (have hated doing that in the past). The publisher should host their OWN patches, and deliver them (or notifications of updates) themselve or make it known as to WHO is hosting the patches, and make them accesible without having to sign up to 30million different website (fileplanet i look at you due to how easy it is to get lost over there :D)

5. Gamers shall have the right to expect that the minimum requirements for a game will mean that the game will adequately play on that computer.
The minimum specifications of the game should be to run the game at “Average” settings, with Recommended being able to run it at “High” settings. Does this mean that games should currently be aimed at “lower” end PC’s currently? Maybe… but at least make it easier for the consumer to know if the game will run on their PC. They arent all techno wizkids. Now saying that, the Games for Windows specification could be a way forward for this, but even so, I know people who run Vista and DONT know what their PC scores are (it could be printed on the hardware box, or have an easy to find way to compare it. Games for Windows ALSO shouldnt be Vista only, but for XP (and older). Granted saying that, i do know how hard it can be, as sometimes a hardware manufacturer “tweaks” the hardware a little bit, and it breaks on one game and one game only (or so says my Games Programmer friend).

6. Gamers shall have the right to expect that games won’t install hidden drivers or other potentially harmful software without their express consent.
STUPID STUPID Starforce protection (and SecureROM)…. why dont you uninstall when i uninstall the ONLY game that has that copy protection on it? Hell, why on earth is copy protection present in the first place? Are you afraid that I will copy the game and sell it on? And whats worse, depending on the VERSION of copy protection on the game, it might not even run if you have more upto date programs installed (Process Explorer for example from Sysinternals/Microsoft). I can see WHY there are checks in place maybe, but for christs sake… if people are going to pirate the game, then they will also get the crack as well so that they DONT have the [censored] protection in place.

7. Gamers shall have the right to re-download the latest versions of the games they own at any time.
Once you have bought the game, you should be able to play it as and when you want. If there are patches/expansions for the game that i have bought, i would like to be able to download those as well at the same time with minimal issues.

8. Gamers shall have the right to not be treated as potential criminals by developers or publishers.
Please please please let me install the game on multiple PC’s that i have. Dont let me be limited to a stupidly low number of activations. Dont tie it down to the hardware that i have on the computer, for I, as a gamer can and will upgrade my PC (and maybe even have multiple PC’s) and i dont want to waste activations on a reinstall/hardware upgrade. All your copy protections do is harm the NORMAL computer user. Someone who playes the pirated games will more than likely have the protection/limitation removed (and therefore more than likely enjoy the game more)

9. Gamers shall have the right to demand that a single-player game not force them to be connected to the Internet every time they wish to play.
Why do i need the internet if i am playing by myself? Another limitation that affects more people than you think. Especially seeing as gaming laptops are getting more common (or at least powerful enough to run games). Or are the publishers forgetting that not everyone HAS the internet in the 1st place.

10. Gamers shall have the right that games which are installed to the hard drive shall not require a CD/DVD to remain in the drive to play.
I buy a game, i install it, i store the disc safely away. If i have to keep on putting the disc into the drive, it WILL eventually get scratched/damaged (its happened to me). And if you have MULTIPLE drives on the PC (suprisingly common) PLEASE let the game work no matter which drive i put the disc in (and NOT just the one you isntalled from). Also the drives can change letters when you install a new hard drive/card reader… so again, another issue (i seem to sometimes spend more time swapping drive letters around to make sure everything works correctly than i do playing the game).

Bleah long post, adn just a few thoughts…. your opinions please.

2 comments

Aug 21

Lepzig - Games Convention Podcast - Day 1

Category: Uncategorized

Well here it is (and chances are that if you have already subscribed to the NCsoft podcast, you have already listened to it at least once)

Link to podcast

This one answers questions on

1) Where did the NCsoft Europe crew get into the industry

2) Will Aion be released finished

3) How easy is it to get into the games industry if you go and do a “suitable” course for it (ie a Uni course)*

and more

Stay tuned for more wrap ups as the next one comes in.

And dont forget to stay up to date as well with the Vodcast as well.

Gangrel signing out.

(Damn i wish i was there right now)

*answer: Not easy… requires lots of hard work on your part.

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Aug 20

NCsoft at Leipzig 2006

Category: Uncategorized

Just a few links here incase you miss them.

Steven “Rockjaw” Reid (”le Rockjaw”, Mr Reid or BOSS! as you might also know him as) has a blog here, and has added a quite nice section to it specially dedicated to the Games Convention which you can find HERE!

There is also a video feed that will be updated on a (semi)regular basis… which i have placed just below (it will show the most recent video, or you can go to here and few all the ones that you have missed.

Wait… there is more (apparently)

The Official NCE International Podcast
Each day they will be hosting a live show in English from their stage, dedicated to all the international guests and the fans who couldn’t come to the show. Staff members from NCsoft Europe (and maybe some special surprise guests) will be on stage interviewing the guests, and answering questions from members of the audience. Questions and answers will be in English so that everyone from outside Germany will be able to understand them, too. (Of course every German speaker is also welcome at the stage. It’s a good chance to practice your English skills a bit.)

Best of all, every show will be recorded and the audio will make up a series of special podcasts, which will feed into the Official NCsoft Europe Podcast and let us take part in the excitement. Make sure that you don’t miss a single episode and subscribe to the podcast before the first day of the show.

The Official NCE ‘Vodcast’
Similar to the podcast they will also provide us with a ‘vodcast’ (or ‘video-podcast’) and show us video material recorded each day. See just what was going on (and what you might have missed) on our booth. Episodes will be available at the end of each day on blip.tv or via iTunes - just click here to subscribe.

Twitter-Feed
Those of us who are regularly visit the Community sections on the official websites of Aion: The Tower of Eternity might have noticed that each member of the community team has their own Twitter feed there. To get the most out of this feeds we can follow them using Twitter and receive updates (and send our own updates) with our mobile phone or reply/comment on their postings. (Ayase’s feed, Atreid’s feed, Amboss’ feed).

During the show they will support all three feeds. Become a follower, stay up to date (e.g. be informed about the schedule) and… win prizes!

That’s correct! They won’t be using Twitter to just inform us about what’s going on at the booth, they will also use it to let us win prizes if we follow them. For example, they might tell us that the first person who turns up to the stand and says the ‘Prize phrase’ that they only revealed on Twitter will win a t-shirt. So make sure we can follow the feeds when you’re in Leipzig. Either activate the mobile phone updates or maybe even let one of your friends at home follow it and then send you a notification. Some mobile phones let you read Twitter in a web browser or special applications (like Twitterrific for the iPhone and iPod touch) might make it even easier for you to follow the feeds.

While Twitter doesn’t charge you anything for receiving updates your mobile phone provider might charge you extra fees if you send a SMS to Twitter’s phone number to reply to a posting, or update your own status. So when you are in Germany you might have to send a SMS to Twitter’s UK phone number. Check with your provider, please.

And here’s a special bonus for everyone who has to stay at home and is worried about not being able to win a slot in the Aion Exclusive Preview at the show. While you will still get your chance to win at other events and eventually via a general sign-up process, if you follow our Twitter feeds during the show you can earn your slot then and take part when the preview starts in 2009 – it’s just as if you were there.

Twitter lets you reply to messages and this is what you have to do. Each day they will ask us a short question in each of the Twitter feeds (English, French and German) and telling us that if you reply to the message with the correct answer you can win your slot. They will then contact the winner via direct message in Twitter and ask for their email address to send them the notification later.

Important: You need to be a follower (create your own account, visit our feed and ‘become a follower’) to be able to receive direct messages from them.

There will be fifteen slots given away in total. One each day per Twitter feed and language. They’re rare, but we have a chance even if we are not at the show - go for it!

Please note: The slots are for the Exclusive Preview in Europe only. Please keep in mind that if you do not live in Europe your game experience might be different due to technical reasons. Watch the US Aion website for information about how to get slots for the Exclusive Preview in the US. For example if you attend the Penny Arcade Expo you can win slots for this preview there.

MMS
There are a lot of screens on their booth but none is as big as our main screen, right above the stage. They have set up an MMS system which will allow us and our friends to appear there and show everyone that we’re a fan of their products. Simply take a picture of yourself and maybe some of your friends on our stand and send an MMS message with the subject ‘Leipzig’ to ‘44444’. This is your chance to become a hero and immortalize yourself on their booth - ok, not quite… but it’s good fun! (who knows, you could even get something out of it)

Bluetooth extras
Activate any device which supports file transfer via Bluetooth (e.g. your mobile phone) and you will receive extra material when inside their Bluetooth network on our stand, including exclusive video content… you never know who might pop up on your phone!

Internet live stream from showfloor
You can keep up with the action by following their live streaming from the convention here. They won’t be streaming live all the time but if you miss a live segment you will be able to watch them recorded afterwards on the same site.

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Aug 17

Test of Offline Blogging tool

Category: Uncategorized

Well this is just a quick test post to see if i can get the damn software to work.

Why do i have to keep on logging into my blog, to be able to post?

Why not let a piece of software do it (and it has some NICE layout tools included)

w.blogger seems to fit the bill….

Anyway, as i said, this is just a test entry to see if it all works out nicely.

Gangrel (should be heading off to sleep soon)

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Aug 17

RSS Feeds (or lack thereof)

Category: computer

Dont worry…. The RSS feed for this site HASNT gone down (to my knowledge at least)

But unfortunately for me though, Thunderbird (yes that nice piece of Mozilla software) decided to stop delivering the feeds to me.

Now granted i have to admit that I should have noticed this one immediately (well I would have done if the feeds that I subscribe to are updated on a daily basis (NOTE: totheblogmobile IS updated on an almost regular basis, but I also check that daily… so for me I didnt really miss out))

C’est la vie… must stop drinking the coffee so much.

Now, having researched this, it is indeed a common problem (BAH!), but all sorted… I decided to use Feedreader instead to keep myself going.

Small, compact, fast.

Kinda like how I like my women really (actually slight lie there as tall, compact AND fast is better IMHO).

Ah well, time to spend the next 3 days catching up on podcasts et al.

Gangrel (hyped up on caffine)

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