Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The Game Show Project - Introduction

For my third year at university we can propose whatever we like for our productions. Most people will be pitching short films and documentaries but I fancied doing something a little bit different. No-one will pitch an action game show I thought, so the ball was rolling.

Before Summer I worked on the game and the format including a test run with some friends and now it's reached the point to propose them to the university. It's very much possible that it won't go any further than this stage but it's worth a try! Here's the proposal.

On The Run (wt)
23 minute, multi-camera action game show

4 contestants take the roles of secret agents and embark on an epic chase around the city streets in order to reclaim stolen money from an evil corporation.

The presenter acts as the leader of the operation and oversees everything from the studio/mission HQ. He introduces the 'agents' (contestants) and explains what needs to be done. The evil corporation, with contacts in high places, has taken money out of several different high street banks. The money has been dropped in 4 different rucksacks near these banks for a different henchman to pick up and return it to their base. Our agents must pick up these bags before the henchmen do and return them to HQ and receive a percentage cut of the money they recover as their prize.

There are complications however, Inside each of the bags is a dye pack which, if fired, will ruin the money in the bag. These dye packs were put in place to prevent anyone besides the intended recipient taking the bags. They are set to fire under a number of circumstances. Firstly, if the bags are taken beyond the range of the corporation's central base and secondly if an internal timer reaches 20 minutes. The only way to prevent the packs firing at the end of the timer is to use a disarming key attached to the outside of each bag, however each bag has the key to a different pack. This means the agents must find each other to save the money.

They're not the only ones searching for them however, two operatives for the corporation receive a radio message that some people have taken the bags from where they were and they begin to hunt our agents down. Each bag has a tag attached which, if pulled out, fires the dye pack regardless of whether the pack has been disarmed. Our agents will have to avoid these people in order to finish with their cash intact.

At the end of the game all of the agents return to HQ for their debriefing, and to find out how much money the team finishes with. Each contestant is unlikely to know whether someone else's bag has been dyed or not so this acts as the 'reveal' at the end. Each contestant tips their bag out onto the table revealing either crisp clean notes, or a clump of soggy ruined notes.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Eurovision Song Contest 2008

Well, looks like my prediction was way off but with the current situation of political voting none of the decent songs can win. Besides from my prediction, Serbia certainly continued the current Eurovision trend of putting on an excellent production although why does the hosting country every year pick presenters with the most annoying voices? Wogan was on top form commentating for the UK as ever, although sadly it's currently unknown whether he'll be doing next years contest.

Moving on to the songs, it's usually this long after the contest that you personally realise which song should have won. Last year was one exception however after hearing Ukraine's entry on the night I was without doubt that song was the best. This year my opinion is split between Bosnia & Herzegovina and Iceland's entry titled 'This is my Life'. Both are excellent songs and it's well worth listening to them if you haven't already.

Eurovision always seems to attract a fair amount of abuse every year but frankly, at least when compared to the rest of the stuff filling the schedules these days, TV doesn't get much better than this!

Friday, 23 May 2008

Eurovision 2008 - Prediction

It's that time of year again, and after two semi finals and a handful of brilliant songs falling by the wayside (We'll always remember you Estonia) we're left with the final 25. As we all know by now, it's impossible for any western countries to win so my money this year is on Bosnia & Herzegovina's entry to win it. It's got all the elements to be a winner, it's a brilliant song and is one of the wierdest things I've ever seen in my life. More next week, after the final.

The Eurovision Song Contest Final 2008
Saturday 24th May, 8:00pm BBC 1

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Beat the Star

Combining ITV's two biggest loves, "Celebrities" and Vernon Kay comes Beat the Star, a gameshow based on a member of the public taking on a "celebrity" in a series of challenges.

Filmed as if live, the programme begins full of promise, up until the first game of this week's show. Hammering nails into wood. Sadly, this pretty much sets the tone for the show. The only real highlight was the off road buggy time trial race which was over far too quickly. Things rapidly spiral down to an It's A Knockout level of games including one where the two players had to milk a cow as much as possible, leading to some of the most laughable shouts from the audience, "Go on, milk it!".

Beat the Star also uses a pointless scoring system, each game is worth progressively more points (Round 1 = 1pt, Round 2 = 2pts, etc.) meaning unless one player is really useless, it will all come down to the final round. I foolishly expected them to win me back with a brilliant final round and what did they give me? A penalty shootout. The nail hammering round felt like The Eliminator from Gladiators in comparison.
This week's star, Amir Kahn, also demonstrated to us a masterclass of arrogance and idiocy as he was too scared to stand on top of a telegraph pole and in the only mental game of the show he was asked to name pictures of celebrities, and after seeing the face of Daniel Radcliffe he exclaimed with glee to Vernon, "Harry Potter".

Ultimately, with only about 15 mins of decent games in a 1h15m programme it's not worth tuning in next week.

Beat the Star
Sundays, 6:45pm, ITV1

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Custom Game Soundtracks

One thing that paticularly annoys me about the 'next gen' of consoles are custom soundtracks. The Xbox 360 already has this feature available in any game, and users on PS3 forums everywhere are practically screaming for the feature to be added in a firmware update.


The majority of games out these days are either virtually just multiplayer, or very atmospheric games.

I'll start with the former. If you're playing multiplayer, surely the last thing you're paying attention to is the music. Even if you do notice the music, it's deliberately background music as not to distract you or simply to add to the immersion. Atmospheric games' music has even more importance. Game developers these days must spend a fairly hefty portion of their budget on the soundtrack, many games these days having extensive fully orchestrated scores for the game only for some greasy numpty to kill the mood with the emo flavour of the month. I'll demonstrate this, here's a portion of the wonderful opening level of Bioshock with a 'custom soundtrack'.


Point proven. I do hope this feature is not added to the PlayStation in a firmware update as otherwise we may well eventually lose the fantastic soundtracks we're getting at the moment as the majority aren't listening to them.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

That Mitchell and Webb Look - Mid-Series Review

Currently 4 episodes into the series, That Mitchell and Webb Look continues the duo's style of slightly surreal, but always very original comedy.

Unlike the uncomfortably racist Little Britain which reused the same 7 or so sketches over three series, M&W rarely reuse the same sketch over one episode. In fact, so far over the series so far there has only been one completely reused sketch (the Helivets).

Some of the highlights are the occasional 'on the set' sketches where the pair supposedly play themselves and perform some of the wittiest dialogue I have heard in a long time.

Warning - Contains strong language.
Copyright BBC 2008

Without a doubt it's one of the funniest programmes on television at the moment, and is well worth watching.

That Mitchell and Webb Look
Thursdays, 9:00pm BBC 2

Sunday, 16 March 2008

World of Warcraft - First Impressions

Firstly, welcome to whiteNOISE! I've decided to kick off with my thoughts on what probably is the biggest MMORPG on the market, World of Warcraft. The review's 'First Impressions' as not only have I only got a 10 day trial account, but also because after a few hours of gameplay I was so mind numbingly bored I had to stop.

Firstly, not usually something relevant in a review is the download size. After 3.91GB of downloading, I'd already lost a day of my trial and just when I thought I could jump in and see what everyone was talking about, I had to wait another few hours whilst it updated itself.

Once I was finally in, there were a few pleasant cutscenes, one FMV and another in-game cutscene. That was where the fun pretty much ended however. After talking to the first NPC I was given a relatively simple quest, to go and kill some particular beasties. One thing the game did not make clear to a new player is that there are multiple types of the same enemy, only one of which are the ones you need to kill. After working this out and taking down the relevant number I headed back to the quest giver and this process continued.

In itself this isn't a problem, but they all seem to be like this. Every single quest I played was 'go here, kill these, come back' with the occasional variant of 'go here, collect these whilst others attack you, meaning you'll have to kill them first, come back'.

I do have some plus points, although they are very minor. I do quite like the graphical style of it, they've made it all look pleasant, nothing special but it's nowhere near unbearable. I also like the long XP bar running along the bottom of the screen and believe it or not, death. Dying was actually quite enjoyable. Unlike some games where you would just respawn, perhaps with nothing you were carrying or reduced stats, you tun into a ghost. Your corpse remains and you have to return to where you died and resurrect yourself. One problem with this is that usually anything that killed you is still lingering around. You can pay a 'spirit guide' to resurrect you in a safe place, but at a cost.

Overall, I really can't see the appeal. Some might say that it's the social element to the game, meeting up and playing but I really can't see how that makes the game worth playing, let alone paying for.

However, despite WoW's terminal case of 'not-being-funorhoea' I do have a recommendation for fans of the MMORPG, EVE Online.

Unlike most MMORPGs, EVE Online is set in the future and in space. You do not control your character but your character is the pilot of your own ship.

Graphically, this game is stunning, if fairly baron. You do not slowly fly to places, you will usually warp to them, which is still a very impressive way of travelling as stars and planets fly past you.

One of the games downsides is the user friendliness. The opening tutorial is a little confusing, and if you get ahead of the tutorial at a number of stages, it will sit and wait for you to do something you have already done, refusing to move on. You are also given a few quests early on which do not clearly explain what to do. The emphasis in EVE Online is less on fighting, more on exploration and building. You need to gather resources to build certain objects, either for quests or for upgrading your ship. Combat still features and I have no doubt that it will become more promenant later on through questlines but it is clear that it is not the sole focus.

It's this variety that makes the quests actually fun. There is an element of thought that goes into them, looking through the menu systems to find where you need to go and what you need to collect. There is also elements of real-time in the game, quests will have additional rewards if you complete them within a certain time frame, and they will expire if left uncompleted.

EVE Online is also set on one single massive server, so there isn't an issue of server switching to contact friends.

These are again, just the first impressions of the game as I only have the standard 14 day trial account. Also, if you're interested, despite the graphical imporvements EVE Online's initial download is 2GB smaller than WoW's at only 1.9GB, and no additional patches to download.

If you're interested in trying out some of the MMORPGs on the market, I'm not writing off WoW as thousands of people seem to enjoy it, but I would say try EVE Online first.