Saturday, November 15, 2008

Breeding success

Lyon, Game Connection 2008
Another day another blog and again, almost 2 weeks have marched on in the blink of an eye. I had a short, sharp trip to Lyon with John Dennis, when we attended 'Game Connection', the speed-dating conference for developers and publishers.

It marked a first for us in recent years in that although having Worms related software in development, we actually demonstrated none of it - and primarily the work done to date on Alien Breed and a demo of the stuff on Leisuresuit Larry (which contrary to games-industry myth, isn't dead). 

I'm super-happy to report that Alien Breed went down a storm and there was a real buzz about it - I think we've really captured the essence of the original and delivered it with a thoroughly modern production value. A lot of people came and had a look and had a play and we think its safe to say certain bars have been lifted with regards to digital download titles, which has been the aim from the off. We're looking forward to releasing video, images and details in the coming months.

Lyon itself was good as ever, but staying just a couple of nights meant we were very busy in terms of the event, but I think we managed to catch up with all the old friends and even found time to have a very nice dinner at some posh-nosh place - they say there's no such thing as a free lunch and I suspect that's true, although we weren't grumbling too much.

Best laugh of the time over there was a prank I played on poor John Sanderson (whom I wind up far too much). We tend to think he looks a little bit like Eddie Large and whilst in Leipzig, earlier in the summer, I'd seen a picture of a clown that reminded me of John (it was on the hotel-tv schedule) and took a photo of it on my iPhone, which is where it'd sat ever since.

Anyway, cut to Lyon and we're in our favourite pub, the St. James on Rue St. Jean and playing Perudo with John, Pete Smith, Pete O'Donnel, Sten, Mick and Nina... Perudo is the liars-dice game we play quite a lot and it involves 'wearing' the dice and cup 'bag' on your head as a hat/forfeit when you are almost out of the game and onto your last dice. Well, when people wear the hat, pictures get taken... this carried on until John wore the hat, I took a picture and then he asked to see said picture. Immediately I showed him the picture of the clown I'd taken in Leipzig, rather than the one seconds earlier. The result was hilarity uproar, with John and Pete(s) almost puking up with laughter. 

The joke went down so well (rather like the famous 'war joke' in Monty Python, which was lethal) that the photo of the clown was used anytime ever anyone wanted to see their picture wearing 'the hat'. It got better and better and more funny as the night/drinks wore on. You had to be there. I've included the picture of the clown here -apologies in advance - it's way too dangerous and I wouldn't want anyone coughing/spilling drink on their machines whilst observing it, although without the context of it's 'use' and/or knowing John 'Eddie' Sanderson, perhaps it's power is greatly weakened.

The following night I also had a very long night with Mick Morris and Marc "Coops" Kuepper, leaving the pub in the early hours and managing to move onto 3 other bars before calling it a night in the very small hours, somewhat of a record, which involved the 'club roulette' game down by the old-town river again, which is so much fun. (See earlier Lyon posts for what that is). Coops later thanked me for the state he was in on Thursday... :)

The event was very successful for us in terms of promise, really elevating the studio's skills and I guess many were surprised after years of Worms products :) We're discussing a bunch of stuff with people right now and are optimistic we'll get some of it away and in progress. Great as ever to catch up with all the gang out there and look forward to hopefully doing it all again next year.

And so to Spain.
The day I got back was Katrina's birthday - you can only imagine the grief I'd had by being away on her birthday, but I'd promised to treat her and make up for it. The surprise was a weekend away in Barcelona. I'd got a very good deal on flights from tiny Doncaster airport, so off we went, flying to Gerona (85km from Barca), renting a car (a nice 1 series BMW, that she also liked) and we stayed in the posh Hotel Arts, right on the marina near Port Olympique. 

The weather was nice, much better than the cold, wet and windy Doncaster we'd left behind and we had a relaxing time taking in the sights and way, way too much tapas which ranged from small plates of a few things from platters so full 8 could have been fed from a single plate. All of it was very good but we left Barca very stuffed. 

We also had a long, long walk on the Saturday covering god knows how many miles, culminating in the awesome sight of Gaudi's in-progress masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia - a temple started in the late 19th century and planned to be complete around 2030 or so.

I had a relatively photo-free weekend due to me feeling that the last thing 'Trina needed on a birthday weekend was me going into annoying camera-nut mode. Despite me being sorely tempted.

Fortunately the flight back wasn't grim (high winds were forecast) and everything went smoothly, although it was a bit sad leaving a very sunny blue sky and 18deg. in Gerona. It was 6deg when we landed in Donny.

Marching on Together, despite a hiccup.
On Tuesday I went along to Pride Park in Derby to see Leeds eventually lose out 2-1 in the 4th round of the league cup. It was a really good night and a terrific performance from Leeds who dominated proceedings despite two very early defensive blunders. The atmosphere was great and the team applauded off. 

In many ways I think this could really act as a catalyst for the season, with the fans being so much behind the team, even in defeat, it can't have been lost on them, however disappointing - and however much it would have been nice to have been in the draw for the last 8, like the potential of an FA Cup run, we really have to concentrate on getting out of League 1, back into the Championship and hopefully back to the Premiership.

Tomorrow we're at home to Huddersfield, a Yorkshire derby that I can never understand the fuss about. Over 33,000 are expected at the game (most likely the biggest crowd outside the premiership and the record for league 1 this season) but I just don't get the interest. Last year was a 4-0 hiding for 'Town and I'd be happy with 3 points whatever the score.

Games Fallout
The incessant stream of quality game titles continues to pour through the postbox. Gears Of War 2, Fallout, Rockband2 (and the AC/DC track pack which is both awesome and disappointing at the same time), Fifa09, Little Big Planet, Fable 2 - and that's not including a bunch of games that are out but will be delivered around about Dec 25th for the kids. Jack's chuffed because the Litch King (Warcraft's latest expansion, just in case you live in a cave) is out and he's on with that. This is all well and good but I just don't have the time to play many of them, Fallout is massive... 

Fin Visit
Next week (which is typically busy) has me visiting Helsinki on Thursday/Friday overnight, a day/evening out in Leeds on the Monday, a busy day tuesday with a publisher and then hoping to catch up with other work stuff in-between. I fly out Thursday morning, arrive late afternoon, am out for a meal with my Friday host and possibly a few other Finnish pals - and likely to be a few drinks, then a Friday meeting before flying back.  

Fortunately the weather in Helsinki is forecast to be higher than the -15c it was when I last visited with Jamie, 3 yrs back - just prior to the diabetes thing going off, when we were talking with Housemarque about bringing back Super Stardust - all that eventually happened as PS3 owners will know, ultimately without Team17 publishing in the end, but we were glad they got it onto the system - they're old mates from our Amiga publishing days.

Time will tell if we need to visit the west-coast again before Xmas, I hope not to be honest.

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