Guest Spot – Dave Fanning Show

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I appeared on the Dave Fanning show last Saturday, talking about videogames for Christmas and virtual reality.

Give it a listen

Was great to meet the man himself, whose extremely humble and personable as you might expect.

Here are the cliffsnotes…

Christmas Gaming Recommendations

Two new consoles out for Christmas

Both new consoles have HDR – but need 60hrz HDR 4k TV to take full advantage (approx 600 euro minimum)

Xbox One S – 399.00 euro

4k bluray player / HDR, tiny speed boost in GPU and CPU
2TB hard drive
smaller lighter, power unit included
supports Ultra High Definition Blu-Rays
supports Netflix 4k
slightly improved performance on all older games that had frame rate drops
uses less power, but a little louder (still quieter than PS4)

Playstation Pro – 400 euro (1 tb harddrive)
[old PS4 – 299 – 350 (hard disk size dependent)]

4k uprezzing – no 4k bluray
some games slower
double the graphics card
but not a huge upgrade a 1080p

Playstation VR  – 399 euro (littlewoods)

+ 60 euro for camera
+ 80 euro for two move controllers

cheapest (fully featured ) VR headset available right now
lets you play regular playstation titles on giant virtual screen
already sold very well, so there’ll be lots of games on the way
social screen multiplayer

VERY IMPORTANT – need to make sure you get a bundle with the playstation camera and move controllers if you don’t have them already

Games I’ve tried – Eve Valkerie (60 euro), Playroom VR (FREE), Rez Infinite (30 euro), Rush of Blood (20 euro), Alumette animation (FREE), Job Simulator (30 euro), Thumper (20 euro), Wayward Sky (20 euro), Tumble VR (10 euro)

Some games better with PS4Pro – Robinson, Rigs, Driveclub

Other VR options

Oculus Rift + controllers (ships Dec 6th) = 941 euro online + needs high end computer
Gear VR = 99 euro + needs high end Samsung phone  (Galaxy S7, S7 edge, Note5, S6 edge+, S6, S6 edge)
HTC Vive + controllers = 929 euro + needs high end computer + large play space minimum 5ft by 6.5ft]

There’s also the NES Classic – 65 euro
a tiny console which holds 30 classic NES Games in a box smaller than a NES cartridge
games would normally be around 5 euro each on virtual console (or free if you pirate them on an emulator!)
including classics like Punchout, Caslevania I & II, Super Mario Brothers I to 3, Legenda of Zelda I & II, Megaman 2
Kirbys adventure, Packman, Donkey Kong Jr, Bubble Bobble, Kid Icarus, Tetris, Final Fantasy I to 3, Paperboy
can save games
only one controller with very short cable (around 3 feet), need to reset to try another game

Nintendo fans may want to wait to buy a console – Nintendo switch
not out till March 2017
combines a portable handheld console with a home console
take ‘grown up’ games on the move
Nintendo hoping to take their massive success with portable console (3DS, 2DS, New 3DS XL)
Uses cartridges!!!!

GAMES FOR CHRISTMAS

Grownup Games – Best of the Year

Doom – All Platforms
– fast paced remake of the classic shooter

Fallout 4 – All Platforms
– still going strong – mods now out to Xbox and PS4
– incredibly deep adventure on a post apocalyptic wasteland
– with base building and lots of subgames
– from makers of Skyrim

Dishonoured 2 – All Platforms
– sequel to incredible stealth game
– you’re an assassin with magical powers in a beautiful victorian fantasy steam punk world

Star Wars Battlefront – All Platforms
– fly, shoot and fight in the starwars universe – from makers of Battlefield
– Rogue One DLC on December 6th
– add on to the popular star wars game based on the upcoming movie

Titanfall 2 – All Platforms
– sequel to the popular fast paced mech shooting game

Uncharted 4 – PS4
– latest update to the action adventure series

Inside – all Platforms
– Horrifying platform game
– beautiful puzzles and unrivalled near monochrome art style
– you’re a little boy fleeing from faceless pursuers

The Walking Dead  – all Platforms
– series 3 out – dec 20
– adventure game based on the TV series

Family Games

The Witness
– Stunningly beautiful puzzle game, reminiscent of myst

Life is strange – All platforms
– beautiful highschool adventure game featuring a time travelling teen

Planet Coater – PC
– rollercoaster tycoon for the 21st century

Forza Horizon 3 – XBOX
– latest edition of the classic racing game

Pro Evo 17  / Fifa 17 – All platforms
– latest edition of the popular football games

The Witness – All platforms
– incredibly deep puzzle game from the maker of Braid

Axiom Verge – Wii U
– beautiful 2d retro adventure game

Severed – Wii U
– first person 2d puzzle adventure game with painterly style

Paper Mario Colour Splash – Wii U
– paper cutout style adventure game mixing classic mario gameplay

Mario Kart 8  – Wii U
– latest edition of the classic series

Super Mario maker – Wii U
– build your own levels based on the classic series
– or play thousands of levels from other people all over the world

Getting Into The Game

'Who Wants to Play Videogames' by JDHanckock
Poster based on ‘Who Wants to Play Videogames‘ by JDHanckock.
 jdhancock.com | @JDHancock on Twitter. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Download: Getting into the Game Documentary

Broadcasting Bank Holiday Monday 31st October, 11AM on Newstalk.

Getting into the game is a new documentary aimed at kids who play games. Video games. Kids who play videogames and wonder maybe, possibly, perhapsily, if they’d like to make them. Growing up I remember getting those magazines full of strange impenetrable symbols that promised – if you could just type the whole book into your computer, without making any mistakes – you’d get a brand new, completely free game. These days games are everywhere, but they’re so damn fancy they can seem impossible to learn how to make.

This documentary will help open the lid, just a crack, to see what lies inside your favourite games. We’ve brought together people from every corner of the industry – artists, coders, indies, musicians, gamejammers, and developers of every age.

Featuring interviews with..

Mary Moloney of Coder Dojo
Andrew Boel, Pete McNally, Nick Grey, & Jen Taylor of Havok.
Terry Cavanagh, creator of VVVVVV and Super Hexagon
Owen Harris, designer of Deep, and co-founder of DubLUDO.
Niall Kehoe, Irelands youngest videogame developer.
Students and Lecturers from IT Carlow’s Videogame design degree.
Vicky Lee & Andrea Magnorsky of Global Gamecraft.
and filmmaker, animator and indie developer David O’Reilly.

The programme is divided into five segments, each one looking at a different part of making games.

Learning the Art

We visit cutting edge computing research laboratories at DIT and IT Carlow and tour exciting games development technology.  Lecturers and students explain the skills students should be building outside the classroom if they’d like to study videogames in college. Students tell us about their love of games and how they got into making their own.

Getting Covered in Jam

At DIT a group called ‘Global Gamecraft’ host ‘game jams’, competitions where anyone (over 18) can help make a game in just a few hours. Game Jams are an excellent way to develop the technical, artistic and collaborative skills sought by the games development industry. Jams are a fun and friendly way for young people to get a taste of game development. We speak to competitors and organisers like Vicky Lee, and provide a glimpse of the excitement and accessibility of ‘homebrew’ game development

Creating Havok

Modern videogames simulate exciting and realistic physics. The most impressive game physics ‘middleware’ software in the world comes from an Irish company founded by graduates of Trinity College. Havok are an industry leader employing dozens of artists and programmers. We speak to staff at the company about the day-to-day work of making one of the key technologies underpinning some of the most exciting and popular videogames.

Independent Heroes

The independent game development community is a thriving segment of the industry. We speak with leading Irish indie developer Terry Cavanagh, creator of hit games like ‘Super Hexagon’, about running his own studio. Terry explains how new distribution methods make it easy for anyone to sell their homemade game on the internet. Independent game development is a part of the industry that is particularly important to present to second level students – since it can be used to develop skills, or even start a business while at school.

We try out virtual reality in the company of Bryan Duggan of DIT, exploring DEEP, the anti-anxiety game from Owen Harris. Deep uses unique breathing sensors, soothing music and a beautiful polygon virtual environment to teach deep breathing relaxation techniques.

We hear from David O’Reilly, animator and creator of fictional videogames for use in Hollywood films. David gives us a glimpse into a self-directed career involving art, graphic design, and filmmaking.

Coder Dojo

Coder Dojo is a place for kids to learn how to make games, websites, and even robots. Started in County Cork, the Dojo movement has spread worldwide. Amazingly, Coder Dojo events are completely free! If there isn’t a coder dojo in your area, you can even start your own. We meet some of the kids who are making coder dojo the coolest place on earth.

Getting into the game was produced by Dead Medium Productions. The programme was developed, researched and presented by Gareth Stack and James Van De Waal.

All the music and sound effects used in the programme are listed here. Many of them are available for you to use for free in your projects under a creative commons licence. This documentary is available to download and share for free under the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence, it can be played in class or emailed to your students. Use it and share it! Go make some games!

BAI CREDIT

Eimear Noone – Culture File

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Last April I spoke with video game composer Craig Stuart Garfinkle, about his life and career to date. That interview was just one of a number with composers involved in creating work for Blizzard franchises and the Videogames Live event. Here’s the second, a chat with composer, conductor and game music evangelist Eimear Noone. We talk about video game music, affect in composition and her work establishing Dublin City Concert Orchestra.

Image: Eimear Noone by Rkukiyhuri.

Download: ‘Eimear Noone’

Threat Detection – Episode 24 – All Filler, No Killer

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Gareth & James get together in the first Threat Detection for a while for a general chat about games. They talk about classic videogame publications like PC Gamer, C&VG and EGM, as well as the revival of classic games on sites like Good Old Games.


Download: Episode 24

What is Threat Detection?

Threat Detection is a videogame chat show on Radiomade.ie. Each week, hosts Gareth Stack & James Van De Waal take an hour or two to tear apart a videogame topic, like character, horror, or sex.

Threat Detection – Episode 23 – A.I. in Games (Part 2)

ellie in last of us

What’s Threat Detection?

Threat Detection is a lively, smart, frequently funny and always irreverent videogame chat show on Radiomade.ie. Each week, hosts Gareth Stack & James Van De Waal take an hour or two to tear apart a videogame topic, like character, horror, or sex.

Download: Threat Detection – Episode 23

In the second part of our A.I. in games double bill, we focus on the companion character of ‘Ellie’ in ‘The Last Of Us’, perhaps the greatest accomplishment in videogame A.I.

Growing Up Digital – Episode 2 – Mad Scientists of Music

Episode two explores the video game backgrounds of a variety of Irish experimental musicians – how video game culture and ready access to technology influenced their love of music and their aesthetic sensibilities. Chiptune music in particular reappropriates not only the machinery, but also the distinctive sounds of computer games of the 1980’s, and this helps to define its unique aesthetic. Kieran Dold (Karakara) discusses the aesthetic appeal of retro videogame music. Niamh Houston (Chipzel) explains how ‘home brew’ software like LSDJ, allows her to make music from classic Game Boy portable gaming consoles. Niamh talks about completing the loop – working with BAFTA award winning video game designer Terry Cavanagh to create retro video game inspired music for contemporary ‘indie’ computer games like Super Hexagon.

Download:
Episode 2 – ‘Growing Up Digital

About the Series

BAI logo mark colourMad Scientists of Music is a six part, BAI funded documentary series on Near FM. The show explores the world of Circuit Bending, Chip Tune, and Electroacoustic music in Ireland. Low cost technology, recycled instruments and a new attitude to tinkering embodied by the ‘maker movement’ are helping to reinvent music. A new generation of Irish musicians raised around computers, the internet and video gaming, see noise as something to be hacked, taken apart, and reconstructed. These artists build their own instruments, whether by recycling toy keyboards, modifying video game consoles, or attaching electronics to traditional stringed instruments. They often share their music online for free, and in doing so challenge our ideas about copyright and ownership. Their playful attitude to technology finds new uses for obsolete devices and brings the collaboration of musicianship to engineering and the arts.

Credits

Part 1 – Gaming

Game experience intro: Sebastian Dooris (Deathness Injection)
Montage of Gamers: Emma (of Deathness Injection), Andrew Edgar, Kieran Dold (Karakara), John Leech (Siam Collective), Ed Devane, Colm Olwill, Ed Devane, Meljoann.

Part 2 – Chiptune

Interviewees: Kieran Dold, Niamh Houston.

Featured Artists

ChipzelKnuckle Joe
ZPGMalware Brigade
ZPGXai Unbound
ChipzelSuper Hexagon Soundtrack and Super Hexagon play through (courtesy of Terry Cavannah)
Menacing WondersChipzel (feat Manami Matsumae)
Super Gammy BoyMicrosoft Excel Swag
Super Gammy BoyI’d Have That Many Followers Too If I Dressed Like a Whore
Bitwise OperatorHows That

Threat Detection – Episode 20 – Character in Videogames

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Download: Threat Detection – Episode 20

Does character matter?
A vessel for the player to travel through the story.
An enigma in his/her self.
Often times an empty receptacle for containing player projections.

How can it be conveyed in interactive media?

Characters can often be more than their general perspective of first and third person perspective.

Often times the perspective of the character is taken advantage of to better inform a kind of meta narrative or even just to take a more focused and fixed look on the game’s themes (a la Half Life)

Characters can also be unsculpted mounds of marble for the player to not only mold to their tastes but also to have the availability to shift the game engine’s choice of perspective between first and third person.

Will you be the stabby stabby guy, the hammering Yorkshire madman or a resigned and fashionable wizard who flames his enemies.
Distance between player and manipulable character is drastically shortened. This enhances the likelihood of the player embodying his character. They are verbs of the player’s whim and the supplementary background.

Threat Detection – Episode 18 – Sex in Videogames (Part 1)

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On this episode of our weekly videogame show Gareth & James discuss the steamy topic of sex in videogames. We delve into gender, sexuality, and the auld ride in mainstream and indie videogames. How have videogames historically dealt with sex? Is it possible for such a mainstream medium to deal with sex in an adult way? Do we even want sex in our games? And finally, has a videogame ever been ‘sexy’?

Download: Threat Detection – Episode 18

Threat Detection – Episode 16 – Horror (Part 1)

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Download: Threat Detection – Episode 16

In this weeks ‘very special episode’ of Threat Detection, we discuss horror in videogames. We touch on the history of horror games from ‘Alone in the Dark’ to ‘Amnesia A Machine for Pigs’. We talk about how the mechanics of horror are evolving, and how they’ll change now that VR is around the horror. Finally we explore the potential for horror games that transcend our jaded cynicism, and make us truly afraid.

BUT WAIT JUST ONE SECOND!

We’re also running a competition! We have two tickets each to give away to Gamecraft game jams in Dublin (17th / 18th May) & Galway (10th May). If the idea of working on a brand new game in a few short hours surrounded by fellow geeks sounds appealing, respond in the comments for your chance to win free tickets!