Wednesday, 25 November 2009

small* duck update

blue duck necklace

inspired from the duck hunt wall friezes i blogged the other day, we get back to the usual etsy stylings with some wearables again :) the mini hama bead versions are about half the size of the big ones, so just the right size - although i did have to slightly redesign the sprite, so duck hunt purists are warned that these aren't *exactly* canon ;) here's the duck necklace for the girls, and the duck pin for everyone to enjoy - they can come in any of the three colours if you have a particular outfit/wallpaper in mind that it needs to match ;)

*count all the different meanings of small in one short post! ;)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

hunting ducks

flying duck hunt

so here you go: you saw the work in progress concept a few weeks ago, and now i can show the final product: the flying duck hunt wall frieze! (on etsy and folksy)

i have to make a confession: flying ducks have always reminded me more of coronation street than nintendo's duck hunt - the NES was just a little bit before my time. but there is perhaps no better amalgamation of videogame sprites with good old real northern life than hilda ogden's trio of ducks recreated in glorious pixel form.

i think it's interesting that videogames are often seen as quite an immature and young industry or artform, and yet we already embrace nostalgia - especially if you're as into 8bit retro pixels as me. obviously there's something in the basicness of it all that makes us yearn for simpler times, when you only had one or two buttons to mash instead of a whole control system to learn, and games were short, straightforward and (in my opinion) often a lot more fun for it. i guess the wii is getting back to that kind of thing, especially as the industry realises that my overcomplicating things, they lost a huge chunk of the casual market along the way, which i guess is why we're seeing a lot more of these vintage titles appearing on things like wiiware.

i don't know if it's for these reasons, or just that he *really* likes ducks, that a friend from the mktweetup group (who, incidentally, makes awesome custom arcade cabinets) commissioned a special single colour duck trio for his very own wall. if anyone else fancies one, get in touch with me via the blog, flickr, etsy or folksy and i'll see what i can do :)

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

game city's last stand - day 5

Brickstock Continued... - 03

so I got no sleep friday night... :( horrible stinking cold from being too sociable, talking too much and generally being on holiday, but i wasn't about to let it get in the way of rocking out!

in the big tent @gamecity watching the world's first lego rock festival \m/, hope i can still sing with a stinking cold

they set the giant tent up with astroturf, deckchairs, umbrellas and lots and lots of lego, with giant lego bricks on stage and raina lee being incredibly enthusiastic and lovely. but whilst i waited for the rest of my band to arrive, there was a small matter of matsuraa-san's keynote in the ballroom to go to. there was live music, live playing of brand new rhythm games, lots of general excitement and margaret robertson doing an excellent job of interviewing landing exactly on the right side of the fangirl line.

waiting back stage for our brickstock performance @gamecity to a crowd of thousands (of minifigs ;)

but now it was time... after already hearing quite a few renditions of bryan adams and bon jovi, we decided to give the crowd a break and go for walking on sunshine by katrina and the waves. possibly not a wise choice as it goes on for*ever* at the end with bits i didn't know how to sing, and a bass player who had never played the game before, let alone in public! but we had fun, and rocked out, and Omegazoid seemed to go down well with the crowd :) definitely the highlight that i've been telling people about the most :D

finished rocking out to lego rock band in time to go see jonathan smith ballroom bricks @gamecity, lego alex james is uber cute!

and then straight after playing the game, had to run back to the ballroom to see the lovely jonathan smith talk about lego rock band. i like how the songs were picked to be ones that would make you feel awesome :) i also like how they've managed to take out most of the annoying bits and made the game even more fun, rather than just a change of song list. he told us afterwards that previous rock band DLC will work with lego rock band too which is pretty awesome (dependant on family friendly-ness, understandably, the Lego corp probably don't want their characters singing dodgy stuff). one of my favourite things has been the character design though - lego blur are adorable; i always had a crush on alex james and his lego'd up floppy fringe is incredibly cute - and lego queen follow quickly behind with the immensity that is brian may's curly lego mullet. the whole thing is tempting me horribly into the murky (well, seemingly expensive) world of lego minifig modding...

Also TT are working on lego harry potter! :o going to be aaaawesooome :D next year @gamecity?

*how* excited am i about this?! it seems it had already been announced and so wasn't new news to anyone but me, but yay! i wanna do magic spells with my wiimote with the same ease and pure joy as lightsabre fighting in lego star wars. and then, that was it... hometime for me, as i'd not booked a hotel room for saturday night due to not realising there was another party that night, and to be honest, the cold was getting the better of me anyway. would've loved to stay and get dressed up with professional makeup to do Left For Dead: Live, not to mention to see how they were going to manage StreetFighter: Live (something like this maybe?) but it was sadly not to be...

til next year :)

sadly having to leave @gamecity before The End party (bah illness n lack of sunday trains) but thank you for an absolutely brilliant week :)

p.s. one of my tweets is in Edge! check out their gamecity round up (slightly more concise than mine, but not half as interesting hopefully ;) in the christmas issue out now :)

pixels and parappa at game city day 4

and day 4 of gamecity starts like this...

just about to head into town for more @gamecity, anyone know when live @onelifeleft is going to be? Do i risk going to curry sessions?

the answer was yes. gotta love mystery twitterer (although he wasn't entirely sure what i was on about) and the status updates from two of the OLL presenters saying they were still on the motorway, but yaaaaay, it was so worth making it to the final curry session - all worked out to be timed quite nicely in the end :)

The pixel ani curry session w/spiteyourface & alaskanmilitaryschool @gamecity was ace, want to go get out the lego and gameboy camera now :)

alaskan military school are the genii behind the 15 pixel gamecity idents (play the game, see how many you can guess!) which i absolutely *love*. spite your face are the genii behind the whole lego stop motion animation phenomena, and the dudes who did lego camelot which appeared on the monty python & the quest for the holy grail dvd (2nd favourite film ever). one of the spite your face guys managed to 'play' music from the gameboy chunky camera which wasn't exactly a pop sensation but nonetheless impressive. i still have my [sister's] gameboy camera somewhere...

i love how both of them managed to distil such vast things into pixel form (either literally, or in lego pixels) and still be so recognisable and powerful. simplification of pixel art seems to bring out the sheer quality of things sometimes i think. but then i would say that with my hama bead obsession ;)

is sat in front of jonathan smith watching @onelifeleft @gamecity :)

it's quite bizarre seeing one of your favourite podcasts being recorded live, but i was glad i finally got the chance after missing them 2 years ago (when i was yet to be a listener, but had just heard about it from ste curran's talk). even bizarrer to turn around and see jonathan smith from TT games (mr lego everything) sat behind you, enjoying the show! i wonder if he's started work on lego sweeney todd yet...

really enjoyed Mr matsuura's majestic march @gamecity - much fun with kazoos and now i *need* to play vib ribbon :)

this was the warm up for masaya matsuraa's keynote the next day, but was possibly actually way more fun. we got given kazoos on the way in and practiced warming up a bit by going through every sci fi theme tune we could possible remember (old school star trek and stargate themes probably worked best out of the bunch - imperial deathmarch does not suit the kazoo and super mario bros is too hard...) the reason for all of this was two-fold - first he was promoting his new wiiware game, Major Minor's Majestic March, which looks hella fun to play. matsuraa-san is the king of rhythm action games (i learned) as he was behind stuff like vib ribbon and parappa the rapper (both of which i should really hunt out and play properly sometime), but i really like how he's managed to evolve the gameplay when so many people seem to be doing the same old thing. the majestic march doesn't require you to stick to a pre-determined beat and test your accuracy - it lets you keep your own tempo, and change it according to the needs of the song. way more like real music performance than mere karaoke :)

the second reason we got kazoos was for our mass performance of hey jude together. brilliantly smily moment, harkened back to when i got linked to this hey jude lyric flowchart diagram when i got back (absolutely genius)

Watching gamers dance to chip tunes is funny (i fully include myself in this)

nerdiest party/night out i think i've ever been to, but at least there *was* dancing, which i wasn't entirely expecting! i have to confess i'm not the hugest fan of chip tunes, but syphus was pretty cool, sabrepulse played the blockbuster theme tune and i had an excuse to boogie :)

fun times partying with @onelifeleft @gamecity, dancing to knights of triforce muse/zelda mashup was immense :)

i think this is the closest i can find to the song in question, but i'm sure the version @byronicman played was far more remixy/mashup than badly played guitar cover. if anyone can find it, link me up - i *need* that mp3 in my life :D

Monday, 9 November 2009

lambs, flowers and girls with guitars on day 3

day 3 started with even more gaming of the non-video variety at gambling lambs, a group of lovely people who meet at lee rosy's tea shop to play games together every month. if only MK wasn't so far away...

Playing medieval cards at gambling lambs @gamecity - i am the greater dalmuti!

firstly we were introduced to dalmuti. i realised i'd played it before with standard cards as president (which in turn is based on an old chinese game, dai hin min) but the new deck and setting made it even more fun as the power struggles soon got people into character :)

playing last night on earth: defend the manor house, i am the zombie lord \o/ @gamblinglambs @gamecity

i'd also played last night on earth before (a zombie board game that feels kinda like an interactive movie), but not this scenario. it was fun, but complicated, and we never did really finish the game, but had some interesting storylines come up along the way at least - far more hilarious than expected ;)

we left last night on earth in a mess of inappropriate zombie orgies, won at werewolf and now at @gamecity u panel for a breather :)

more werewolf, albeit in a bigger group and i had to be a wolf this time (which i hate cos i suck at it, amazed i lasted as long as i did...) - we were having so much fun we missed the start of the gamecity U stuff, but decided to go along for the afternoon session with rex who did the art on little big planet, babsy from papermint and robin hunicke who now works for thatgamecompany. not sure what i expected from a games design panel, but it was inspiring stuff - just frustrating that some of them were lucky types who were arty and visual (like me) and still managed to find teams to work with to make videogames despite a lack of technical knowledge (also like me). there had been some previous talk about games as creative, and how children love being creative from a young age, but it seems the barrier to games design is just so much higher than that of art or music: kids can experience either of those and then go and instantly make them themselves , even if it is just a crude attempt at finger painting or banging pots and pans - what's the games equivalent? how do people who have ideas, but not the mad coding skills, get a chance to do anything with them?

with this still on the mind, we went to a curry sessions debate on taboo in games, although it wasn't particularly debateful or indeed audible from where we were sat.

is about to experience flower: night blooms @gamecity :)

robin hunicke came back for the big live art performance of Flower in the exchange arcade. again, not sure what to expect, and on paper/screen it might even sound a little disappointing, but it really was a little shared moment between all involved. flower is a ps3 download game that i'd heard about but not played before - basically you are the wind, picking up petals and, in the words of robin, 'spreading love throughout the world'. one of the things that was particularly cool was how there was no words, no text or dialogue, in the whole thing - reminding me of one of my favourite comics, owly, in both how accessible it becomes to children or people who speak other languages, but also in how it makes the reader/player put their own emotion into the gaps.

Watching flower played big isnt quite like a film, better than video art installation, live dance with petals as ballerinas maybe?

the previous day, david braben and lord puttnam had both talked about videogames not yet reaching the stage where they can make people cry - as if this pinnacle of emotion is a sign of artistic legitimacy - but robin clearly proved them both wrong by admitting (and demonstrating) how emotional the game made her feel. all we, the audience, did was to stand, sit or lie down and watch someone else play a videogame, projected onto wavy muslin, but it was a unique and moving (in an undefinable sorta way) experience. (insert something about games as art, except i think that perhaps the more we go on about something is already blatently real, the more gamers as a whole sound as if we're just on the defensive...)

Also: wind turbines as things of beauty; colour reminiscent of Hero; and nice to see a bunch of gamers chilling out and soaking it in

and on that note, and later than planned, we moved on the 'world of wordcraft' event to see rebecca mayes (of gameswipe fame) play live, and also maybe listen to people talk about games writing too.

i have to say at this point, game city was horrendously disorganised this year, but it did have its benefits at times. flower overran its slot and we honestly made our way over to the gig thinking we were an hour late and would've missed it all, but because practically everyone was at flower anyway (including the organisers), it didn't actually matter. we just bumped the schedule on a bit, and still had time to play fluxx before it started. maybe not the most professional type of thing, but i think the nice community feel is one of the best things about game city.

World of wordcraft @gamecity was interesting: i still secretly want to be a games writer/editor. rebecca mayes is pretty cool too :)

there was a lot of discussion about games reviews, which, coming from ste curran of '7/10 onelifeleft' fame, and started by a statement that games reviews were pretty much meaningless these days, may hint at the slight irreverance to follow

RT @avalix "pacman is *almost* the most rounded video game character in video game history" @gamecity @steishere :D)

being a word geek, editor, zine contributer etc... i have a bias towards critical writing even if i do admit it bears very little influence on the games i buy anymore, but i like non-fiction writing as a creative artform, and was particularly impressed at the ability to put that into a musical construct with not just acoustic guitar but awesome pedal layering too. there may be more along this kind of front in the future...

Saturday, 7 November 2009

a splendid day 2 at game city

Day 2 in the game city week and it starts off with Something Splendid...

Omg takahashi's playground is actually going to happen @gamecity! Yay mobile internet!

11:46 AM Oct 28th from mobile web

So, Keita Takahashi (aka Mr Katamari Damacy) is going to design a playground to be built in Nottingham! He kind of talked about it at his keynote two years ago but I don't think I ever expected anything to come of it, especially considering how long it took for them to get Noby Noby Boy out, but it's pretty awesome that hopefully in a year or two we might get to go play on it! The Q&A made sure that adults (and dogs) would be allowed to join in the fun too, although what the fun will actually be is still a mystery, other than something involving natural hill slides (interestingly, hand gestures and delayed translation add a strange layer to proceedings) and a provocatively large amount of polystyrene balls. One of these days I will have another go at unlocking the 2nd level of We <3>

(This is also the point where I'd visited the o2 store, and the very lovely assistant guy managed to stifle his laughter at my ancient (but awesome) Nokia E70 long enough to get me on the mobile web, woo! \o/)

Just played canabalt for the first time @gamecity in front of a curry house of people and didnt suck!

12:52 PM Oct 28th from mobile web

Canabalt kicks ass. I'd heard about it before but not played (as I later found out, it runs at about 7fps on my stupidly broken iBook) but quite aside from AdamAtomic being lovely and very interesting while we ate curry for lunch (another pleasantly surprising first!), it is just so damn addictive.

Also just got a certificate declaring i am officially brilliant at lego rock band \o/ @gamecity

12:56 PM Oct 28th from web

I think these are the wrong way round, but somewhere along the line we made it to HMV to audition for Brick Factor. Lego Rock Band is ace fun - much hilarity watching the guys before us do an awesome rendition of Walking on Sunshine before securing our place in Brickstock with Summer of '69 by Bryan Adams (I was on vocals - always am - as much as I love the drums and am a natural bass player, I'm usually the one least shy at singing, after waaaaaay too much experience on Singstar :D )

Is celebrating being born the same year as band aid and elite @gamecity

3:20 PM Oct 28th from mobile web

Do they know it's Christmas is my Christmas song :) 1984 was obviously a good year for the world ;) The Elite talk started out interesting, the game visuals and music are still surprisingly beautiful and I'd enjoyed learning about a game that I'd never played (due to the aforementioned being born the same year it came out), but unfortunately I remember very little of the actual talk because I don't think it was that enlightening... Got a very stylish origami poster though so can't complain :)

I think after that we took the opportunity to visit the best comic shop in the country, Page 45 of Nottingham, (always nice to go to a comic shop where everybody knows your name, even if you've only been buying by mail order) - introducing my friend Marc to the graphic novel that inspired the Batman: Arkham Asylum game (I know it's critically acclaimed and all, but unfortunately I can't stand the art style which in turn totally puts me off the game, which I hear is actually really good), and buying some new Joss Whedon loveliness.

About to go play at hide&seek sandpit @gamecity yay!

6:49 PM Oct 28th from mobile web

Well I already knew Hide & Seek was going to be fun - certainly enough to miss the 'We were 64' commodore love in event that it clashed with (I was an Amstrad girl) - but it was kinda nice to go to Sandpit in a place other than London where the atmosphere has changed a fair bit since more people have found out about it. Very glad that the lovely people on the desk let us in despite me being the only one out of our group to have found out about pre-registering, and ended up being roped into a game of 'Are you Thursday?' whilst we were still in the queue. The aim was to swap playing cards branded with the days of the week by asking people and finding out if they were a day adjacent to you - I never made it out of the weekend, but wonder if it was at all inspired by Garth Nix's Mister Monday books...

Awesome fun at sandpit @gamecity, *waves* to cool ppl we played impromptu werewolf with! more lego rock band too \m/,

12:34 AM Oct 29th from mobile web

So yeah, we got there a tad late (due to Wetherspoons food issues) but bagged ourselves stickers for two of the games running at the end of the night, so decided to head over to Lee Rosy's lovely tea shop just across the road from Broadway cinema where they had *more* Lego Rock Band (yay! - we got to do You give love a bad name by Bon Jovi amongst other things) and delicious chocolate cake mmmmm...

Then, in the true spirit of Sandpit, deciding we didn't need a scheduled game to gather people together, we teamed up with some (quite lovely!) random people and taught them how to play Werewolf. I *suck* at Werewolf, but nevertheless it is still fun, and got to meet some ace people (hi Hannah!)

We played hipsync (silent disco:the game, v fun) & moveyhouse (which, despite tech difficulties, might be the best film ever :)

12:37 AM Oct 29th from mobile web

Then the 'proper' games: first up HipSync, which was basically a Silent Disco (in the middle of the bar!) where everyone had randomised MP3 tracks and had to find other players who were dancing to the same style of music as them. A few sync issues (ironically) but fun none the less, and the 'game' aspect of it did mean that no one really cared about dancing/moshing/headbanging to silent music in front of a bar full of people :) Would definitely like to play again.

Lastly was Moveyhouse, in which a cinema full of people watched descriptions of people in another cinema and attempted to act out the human drama which was probably far more interesting than the film being shown. Some more technical issues, but the joy of these type of games meant that we weren't entirely sure what was supposed to be part of the script or not, what was pre-written or improvised live, and just got on with having fun with Darth Vader masks and Werthers Originals instead :) A surprisingly emotive experience - laughter really is self-perpetuating, and might actually have been the best film ever (they told us to say that ;) )

Off to the pub after that for fake cobwebby beer and interesting discussion - but possibly the concluding thought from the day is that the most fun came from when we were just chilling out and playing together. Which would make sense, considering we were at a games festival, but the interesting part was that the games we played were mostly of the non-videogame variety...

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

game city round up: day 1

editing complete, work all done on time, out of office on, time to play! @gamecity

7:19 PM Oct 26th from Flickr

so here we go :) i enjoyed gamecity so much when i went 2 years ago that this year i thought it was worth taking a whole week off work and having the most awesome videogame-based holiday ever!

is *finally* on her way to nottingham for game city :) got up late n had to pack... probably shouldnt have been hama beading at 2am

2:13 PM Oct 27th from txt

tuesday wasn't immensely eventful so it wasn't too bad that i arrived late: the badge i made for the mystery @gamecity tweeter was well worth the last minute crafting.

Hotel is looooovely (esp. considering how cheap it is) but a slight lack of wifi. This may be an issue. Must go o2 shop n get phone online

5:40 PM Oct 27th from txt

hotel was lovely, highly recommended. o2 shop very helpful and got me back online with twitter the next day, yay! \o/ as it turned out, very much needed for the rest of the week...

had awesome fun times at the @gamecity launch do, hanging out with @marmaladegirl n drinking free champagne \o/ can't read twitter tho :(

9:57 PM Oct 27th from txt

so the highlight of gamecity:day 1 was the launch party, which i'm not entirely sure i was officially supposed to be there, but stumbled upon the ticket whilst browsing their eventbrite listings. free drink, free sushi (which i didn't eat, but *did* want to rearrange into space invader sprites as it looked all pixellated with the different types and colours squished in the boxes) and meeting up with random lovely people :) iain claimed the badge as the mystery tweeter who had been so helpful answering questions, and this is how lovely it looked with sparkles and giant origami spaceships from Elite which you can still go and download, print out n make for yourself! (see my efforts here)


is listening to last week's @onelifeleft in her hotel room, eatin a choc dip n playin paper picross :) who needs tv radio or internet? (me)

10:18 PM Oct 27th from txt