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Wednesday, 17 November 2010

SpikeTV Video Game Awards Nominees

Ok, so here is my list of who I think deserves to win in each category:

GOTY: Mass Effect 2
Studio of the Year: Bungie
Best X360 Game: Halo Reach
Best PS3 Game: GOW 3
Best Wii Game: Super Mario Galaxy 2
Best PC Game: Fallout: New Vegas
Best Handheld Game: Professor Layton & The Unwound Future
Best Shooter: Bioshock 2 (Even though I don't really count it as a shooter per se)
Best Action Adventure: Red Dead Redemption
Best RPG: Mass Effect 2
Best MP: Halo Reach
Best Individual Sports: UFC Undisputed (I guess)
Best Team Sports: Fifa 11
Best Driving Game: NFS Hot Pursit
Best Music Game: Dance Central
Best Soundtrack: Rock Band 3 (As it has most of the GH back catalogue)
Best Song In A Game: Goldeneye
Best Original Score: Halo Reach
Best Graphics: Kirbys Epic Yarn (Because it's the only one that's not brown)
Best Adapted Video Game: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Best Performance BY A Human Male: Gary Oldman as Sgt. Reznov (Biased as I frigging love Gary Oldman!)
Best Performance By A Human Female: Kristen Bell as Lucy Stillman (Again, biased)
Best Downloadable Game: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Best DLC: Bioshock 2 Minervas Den
Best Indie Game: Limbo
Most Anticipated Game: Portal 2 (Bioshock Infinite could also clinch it)

Monday, 11 October 2010

BT and why they are shit. A summary.

So BT Broadband customers. Do you know that you ALL have an upload speed of around 500 kb/s? This means it would take about 10hrs to upload a 1gb file.

This CANNOT be changed so I suggest any YouTubers or film-makers stay well away from BT and their 'fair use policy'.

This info took me 6 phone calls, 3 non-call backs, 2hrs on hold, 32hrs and a 5 min conversation to get from BT customer services 'engineering dept.'.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Rage/id Software Conference w/ Q&A (feat. NVIDIA 3D) - Eurogamer Expo 2010

The queue for these conferences have always been huge and today is no exception. People have been queuing at least an hour and a half before the conference is due to start.
Luckily our press passes save the day and we are once again in our usual seats on the front row.

The room is heaving but before Tim Willits takes the stage, a rep from NVIDIA comes onto stage to present us with some groovy 3D effects.

Now for some weird reason, my eyes hate 3D, give me a headache and want to make me hurl, but it appears that my specs have decided that they don't want to sync anyway so unfortunately I can't tell you whether or not this 3D presentation is as mind blowing as we are being led to believe.

We are shown some clips from Battlefield, Just Cause 2, Batman Arkham Asylum, Super Sonic Sled (what?!), Tomb Raider Underworld and Metro 2033 which have all been given the 3D treatment.
We've already experienced some 3D gaming first hand here at the Expo with MotorStorm Apocalypse and Killzone 3, which Stu was highly impressed with.
This 3D is more about depth perception as opposed to things coming out of the screen at you which seems ideal for modern gaming.

Next up are some pictures of landscapes and popular landmarks that have been treated with the same effect.
Following this is a clip of some guy dressed like Jarvis Cocker who throws around some massive rolls of bubble wrap and a basketball game that is presented as being streamed from a YouTube-esque website.

At the end of the presentation the audience appear to be quite impressed with what they have seen.

Lights go down again.
We are being told we aren't allowed to film or take pictures. Bloggers ftw!

Tim Willits is joined by Senior Producer, Jason Kim.
Rage is the first new idSoftware IP in 10 years!

Tim talks about Wolfenstein (small clap), Doom (big clap) and Quake.
The progression of new technology is what pushed idSoftware into wanting to create something outside of the 'corridor shooter' but are still determined to keep to their roots.
'idTech5' is what is allowing new textures in Rage, giving it its unique look and style, stepping away from the same tired old environments. This tech is cross platform.

Rage takes place in the distant future after an asteroid takes out the earth.
The Eden Project (ughhh) put Arcs in the ground which are life supporting pods that were meant to emerge once the dust from the asteroid collision has settled but you are the only survivor fighting against 'The Authority'.

The demo starts in the wasteland about an hour into the game. Supplies are running low and it's your job to get more.
The environment looks very Fallout-esque but is well textured and the running is quite smooth.
You have your standard FPS set up with iron sights ability for precise aiming.

Vehicle driving switches to 3rd person.
'The Caprino' heavily armed with machine guns, rocket launchers and a massive ram at the front which enables you to bounce enemies cleanly off of your vehicle.
The vehicle is pretty quick and handles really well which allows you to turn easily and throw in a couple of drifts for extra awesome.

The town of 'Wellspring' becomes your home base or HQ and is the start of most of your missions, races, etc.

First loading screen: 1min tops

We are led into a bar and told that it's beneficial to the player to 'listen in' on what the NPC's have to say to learn more about missions and backstory.
Mini-games are prominent and allow you to earn extra cash. The one we are shown is called 'Tombstones' and is played with dice and little hologram characters.

There is an outfitters for your personal upgrades and a separate area for you to upgrade your vehicles for races.

We are shown an example of the 'listening in' benefits when we pick up a story about a mutant invasion.
An alarm sounds in the Wellspring office and we are led to go and help out. The mission is to kill the bandits and retrieve the toxin they plan to use to poison the water.
Our character, of course, is their 'only hope'.

Second loading screen: 1min tops

Jason Kim takes over.

Each new area gives you something new to play with, whether its a weapon or a piece of equipment.
Our character is given an electro bolt shooter, ideal for taking out enemies in a watery sewer.

A wounded NPC lets us know that there are bandits around the corner and they are taken out with an electro bolt, frying ala Bioshock. One hit kill in water.

Engineering items are obtained through schematics (*cough*Fallout 3*cough*), one of these we are shown is an RC car that explodes on the players command.
Another is the 'lockgrinder' which allows you to enter secure doors containing loot.
A personal turret is another which can selected via the d-pad for quick deployment. In the demo it is quickly knocked over by an enemy before it does any serious damage.

Jason proceeds through the level displaying some of the different weapons available, in this case, a machine gun, a shotgun and a magnum.
There is also a Xena/Dark Sector boomerang shuriken that can be thrown and even decapitate an enemy.

These bandits are fairly acrobatic but most can be taken down with a few rounds or a quick shotgun blast to the head.

We are shown a second group of enemies who take a bit more of a 'hack n slash' approach and run at you blindly with a variety of swords and clubs.

Another bit of tech is deployed which is a spider turret/sentry bot that runs along firing with its mounted machine gun and is used in this demo to flank an enemy.
Jason heads lower down into the level and after a few more bandits has an armoured 4x4 driven at him, with a mounted machine gun.

'The Dead City' is an old destroyed downtown area filled with mutants where no-one has ever returned.
Our character has been sent in to find out what 'The Authority' have been doing there.

We are back to an external area and are attacked by mutants which look a bit like skeleton/zombie pirates.
Same kind of combat style as the previous enemies but appear to go down a lot easier.

A monstrous mutant comes out armed with a grenade launcher and immediately opens fire, however his accuracy is appalling and he is taken down easily with 2 rocket launcher rounds.
However, an even bigger mutant comes stamping around the corner, Jurassic Park style, and roars as the demo fades out and the 'Rage' logo appears.

Available Sept 13th 2011 USA, Sept 15th/16th 2011 Europe

'Is that the biggest thing (mutant at end of demo) we encounter?'
One of the biggest.

'Melee weapons?'
Each weapon has melee capability, but no dedicated melee weapons (bar fists).

'Game tied to Doom or Quake?'
Quake, Doom, Fallout 3 easter eggs will be in the game but no direct links.

'Online co-op/MP'
Yes, there will be MP. Working on it right now. Want to make it unique so won't talk about it until next year but should be 'very different than anything we have done in the past'.

'Open world free roam game?'
Open but directed. Story arc/missions but side missions and odd jobs available throughout.

'Will Rage run in 1080p on the PS3?'

'Will vehicles and weapons deteriorate?'
Yes you will need to repair vehicles. No encumbrance.

'Will you have to drive and walk a lot, like in Fallout 3?'
You will ALWAYS have a vehicle available to you. The wasteland isn't huge.

'Will it be multidisc/DLC?'
Xbox 360 - 2 discs. No switching, just finish one then start the other.
PS3 - 1 disc.

'Morality system?'
Not really. Townspeople will comment on whether or not you did a good or bad job.

'What genre is this?'
FPS Action Shooter

'How long did it take to develop mega texturing?'
Started post Doom 3.

Definitely want to do DLC.

In conclusion, Rage is ideal for fans of Fallout 3/post-apocalyptic shooters but don't want to deal with all the vast travelling, weapon deterioration or encumbrance.
It looks and sounds great and hopefully it lives up to all the well deserved hype.

I know I'm definitely going to be picking it up.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Peter Molyneux Presentation - Eurogamer Expo 2010

Here we are in the front row for the Peter Molyneux Eurogamer presentation.

The queue was absolutely heaving so I'm going to be amazed if everyone got in but happy to see that Andy Farrant and Dan Maher are chilling out behind us.

The stage set up consists of a large projected screen featuring the EGE logo but you can definitely tell that Peter has put his touch in here.
One corner of the stage features a large tree with scattered rocks and rusted lanterns. The other a large well (which I am hoping will be were Peter appears from) with a suit of armour standing proudly next to it.
Stage centre however, features a throne, complete with footstool, table, pillows. A longsword is propped against the throne, presumably to deal swiftly with any hecklers that may have snuck in.

A series of costumed characters have appeared. Wenches for the win.

Two of the costumed characters in pirate attire are engaging in a sword fight. It's pretty damn funny.

A town crier comes on and introduces the presentation video.
Everyone seems pretty pumped as we are treated to a look back over the franchises previous titles and their commendations.
Peter Molyneux is introduced by the town crier and opens with a wanking joke in reference to his strapped up hand. Awesome.

Peter is talking about the conception of Fable, looking back to his days making Dungeon Keeper, which only a few people clap for surprisingly, and the ideas that came from what kind of game they wanted to make and their obsession with levelling up.
"Sleepy Hollow' was one of the inspirations for Fable & Albion, tying in with the dark fairytales of Old England, specifically those involving terrible things happening to kids...
'King Arthur' is the inspiration for the Guild, whose destined destruction in Fable II was planned right from the beginning of Fable I.
'The Picture of Dorian Gray' is the inspiration for 'morphing', the way your character looks pending on how good or evil you act in the Fable universe, taking this idea further in Fable II by extending these morphing features to your weapon as well as your characters physical appearance.

Molyneux admits that saying his infamous quote 'Fable is going to be the greatest role playing game of all time' was a huge mistake and the press & public were quite right to call him out on it, but is determined to strive to achieve this mission statement.

Being shown some of the concept art for Fable, including the Hobbes which appear to be the perfect incarnation of the Old England fairytale inspiration.

Molyneux talks about Fable II and the decision between sticking to the Fable I blueprint and adding more innovation.
They chose the latter...which is the dog...inspired by Mad Max 2.
Apparently, the dog was put into the game to make us care and bond about it. Personally I just wanted it to find me treasure.

Molyneux jokingly states how deeply wounded he is by those who state they started the game and never finished.
Fable II's ending is the influence for the beginning of Fable III. After the the feedback of Fable II's 'big decision' ending, a big decision is what opens Fable III.

Kill Bill's 'Crazy 88' scene is stated as one of the influences for Fable II's combat, specifically the one button combat.
Molyneux's annoyance for the difficulty of pulling off incredible looking combo moves in fighters is what inspired the one button combat (rhythmic tapping & holding to carry out different moves).

Robin Hood is what inspired the environment and story behind The Spire in Fable II, which apparently we haven't heard all of.

Molyneux tells us that female characters were included because of an awareness of that there was a large female fanbase for Fable.
He also tells us that his wife doesn't like Fable.

Molyneux tells us about a family in the USA who live their entire life as if in Albion.

Fable III's conception was started in 2008.

Ico's game design, specifically the touch feature, is what inspired Fable III's touch mechanic, a further idea into Molyneux's obsession with immersion and bonding with your character and the NPC's in Albion.
The period of Oliver Twist is the main inspiration for the setting in Fable III, the industrial feel that Charles Dickens portrays in his books.
Molyneux talks about how hard it is to not talk about the plot twist when you become King/Queen of Albion, hinting at the 'big decision' we had to make at the end of Fable II and how there will be more decision like this.

We are presented with 'Kingmaker', a mobile app.

You are placed into one of 2 factions, Rebels or Royalists, and you earn points by checking into locations.
Think 'Fable FourSquare'.
As a personal incentive, every time you check in to a location, you earn gold that can be imported into your Fable III game.
Molyneux talks about the possible inclusion of 'treasure hunts'.

'totally blown away...totally blown away....totally blown away...'

They are handing out t-shirts from the stage. I am stuck in my chair.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Halo Reach October update details

Hey Twiddlers!

Courtesy of www.zombiegamer.co.za, here is the list of updates you Reach fans can expect to see in October.

Playlist Changes

* SWAT Playlist added (SWAT removed from Big Team Battle and Team Slayer)
* Campaign Matchmaking (live on 10/15 – You will be required to have earned the Grade “Corporal” to enter this Playlist)
* Team Slayer rebalanced to highlight default Slayer game variants and include new offerings
* Classic Slayer removed
* Removed “Pro” game variants from the Arena Playlist
* Removed Boardwalk from Arena Team Doubles Playlist
* Added “Return to Battlefield” volume to Space on Zealot in the Arena Playlist

Game Variants Additions

* King of the Hill (multiple Playlists, including Arena)
* Rocket Race
* Juggernaut (Rumble Pit Playlist)
* King of the Hill not included in Arena

General Housekeeping

* Sudden Death will be added to all Assault game variants, including Invasion
* Team Objective will now feature the map Powerhouse
* Replacing Drop Shield with Evade for King of the Hill, Territories, and Oddball
* Replacing Hologram with Evade in Oddball, Capture the Flag, Assault, and Stockpile
* Replacing the Scorpion on Hemorrhage with Wraiths (Hemorrhage Heavies variant, TBD)

I'm pretty stoked to see SWAT get a playlist as I love playing SWAT but I know a lot of BTB and TS gamers get frustrated if they get stuck in a lobby with a load of headshot lovers.

How do you guys feel about the update?

Saturday, 25 September 2010

'Chuck Greene: Carrying bitches and kicking zombies since 2010' - A 'Dead Rising 2' Initial Impression

So I have just started Dead Rising 2.

I managed to score a copy of GAME's exclusive 'Outbreak Edition' by pure luck on the morning of it's release and what you get for the £60 price tag is pretty good.

I've bought Special/Limited/Collector Editions of titles before and have been massively disappointed with what I have received (I'm looking at you Fallout: New Vegas Collectors Edition with no exclusive DLC) but the initial shock alone of how massive the box containing all these goodies is makes you feel like you've gotten your moneys worth.

The 'Outbreak Edition' of Dead Rising 2 gives you a copy of the game; a 'Sports Fan Theme Pack' DLC code; a 'Tape It Or Die' booklet featuring combo weapon ideas; a bonus DVD featuring a 'Making Of' documentary & Zombrex 'Dead Rising Sun' film and the crowning jewel, a 12" articulated zombie figurine with servboat head and traffice cone.

I've named mine Duane and he's now chilling out with R2-D2 next to my TV.

I also managed to snag the 'Ninja Theme Pack' GAME pre-order bonus courtesy of the store manager, which I am yet to try out.

Following the advice of my lovely Twitter followers, I downloaded and played the XBLA prologue 'Case Zero' before getting knee deep in zombie guts in Dead Rising 2.
Despite a fair amount of reviews calling 'Case Zero' a glorified demo, I thought it worked well as a standalone title and at 400MSP you can't really argue.
Yes, it would have worked as the first level in Dead Rising 2 but it was a nice treat for fans to get an early taste of the game for a small price and was great promotion and hype for the release.

After two run throughs, saving all the survivors and getting Chuck to level 5 ('Case Zero's level cap) I decided that amateur hour was over and it was time to go pro.

So far I have racked up about 3 hours of play time and I can already start to see the positives and negatives of Dead Rising 2.

The AI seems to have finally developed a survival instinct and you no longer find yourself having to rescue them from an overwhelming horde of 3 zombies.
In fact, every survivor I have acquired on my travels will actively go out of their way to lay the smackdown on any nearby brain munchers and have gotten me out of a tough spot more than once.
Survivors have become a help more than a hindrance. Just make sure that you arm any that aren't already wielding one of the many weapons/objects made available to you.
My favourites so far have to Shewanda, armed with a crowbar and cussing out her cowering husband as she cracks another zombie around the head and Chad, armed with a shotgun, blasting his way through crowds of hungry shufflers looking for his trigger happy other half.

The combo weapons are the best thing about this game.
I was quite disappointed that after playing 'Case Zero', I wouldn't have the opportunity to 'tape it or die' until about 30 minutes into it's big brother but once the option became available, I was wielding baseball bats with nails in and 'laser swords' at every opportunity.
Using combo weapons give you a 'PP' bonus for each kill which makes levelling a lot quicker and easier (I am already level 7) and zombie slaying is much more fluid than wielding their uncombined components. I have even opted to use combo weapons over firearms which is a bit confusing at times as logic would permit that a gun is more powerful than a bat with nails in it.
My favourite combo weapon? Well I don't want to give anything away but..

The frequency of the cut scenes and loading screens have a tendency to break up the action.
In an ideal world, I would like to be able to cross into different 'sections' of the mall with my broom/machete combo still swinging without having to wait 10 seconds for it to load in.
More than once I have been unexpectedly attacked by a cutscene, some of which are, in my opinion, fairly pointless and could easily have been replaced by one of the in game pop up notices.
On some occasions there have been cutscenes into loading screens into another cutscene. It gets very frustrating.

The time frame Chuck is allocated to carry out the main storyline along with side missions is fairly unreasonable.
When the game hits you with your first task in the main storyline, you are instantly sent several side missions, each with similar time periods and at completely opposite ends of the map.
Now this may only be a problem for the completionists, which I am one of, but I even found completing the first chapter of the main storyline within the time allowance to be a challenge.
It feels as if the game wants you to only use these fantastic weapons to take out the few zombo's that stand directly in the way of your objective and you should just try and ignore the huge crowds just begging to be cut down by a lawnmower.

It's also pretty irritating that you always have to be back at the safe house between 7am-8am to administer Katey her 'Zombrex' when Chuck could easily give it to the several people looking after her to administer.
I say let the kid turn! If 'Shaun Of The Dead' has taught us anything, it's that having a pet zombie is awesome as you always have someone to play co-op with but I imagine a zombie child is twice as annoying as a live one.
'Katey got sent home from school today for swearing at the teacher' becomes 'Katey got sent home from school today for eating several of the other pupils'.
From a game point of view, I get what Capcom are wanting to do but logically it's infuriating.
Apparently decent parenting is still applicable in the occurrence of a zombie epidemic.

So far, Dead Rising 2 overall is a great improvement on its predecessor and despite a few flaws, is really great fun to play and I really can't wait to try the multiplayer and co-op features, which are a new addition to Dead Rising.
Rescuing survivors in Dead Rising felt like a chore but I would encourage you to gather as many as possible in Dead Rising 2 as they are a huge asset and sometimes even life saving.
I'm hoping that a 'Free Roam' will unlock upon completion where you can have the option to just wander around the mall enjoying your zombie lolacaust without having to worry about getting Hilda to her husband Brian at 'Casual Gal' before the time runs out and he disappears.

I'll be sure to let you know how Chuck and I get on.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Halo Reach Blue Carpet Event

So here we are.

Thursday 9th September 2010.

Victoria House, London.

In 4 days, one of the biggest titles to ever grace a console will be releasing its latest title.
Of course, I am talking about Halo: Reach.

Tonight however, press (and a lucky select few) are here at the Blue Carpet launch event to see Bungie and Microsofts team of ‘celebrities’, headed by competiion winner Lewis Chapman, take on a rag tag team of Halo’s finest players, the ones who entered the competition anyway.

Upon entry to the venue, we are immediately greeted by a foray of press snapping some of the celebrity invites, to name a few Joe Calzaghe, Pixie Lott and ‘Big Brothers’ Sam Pepper.

Attendees seem to be much more interested in the two rather large (I was informed 7’5”) Spartans, kitted out on full battle armour and wielding a battle rifle and sniper respectively.

Right now there is apparently no time for photo ops with these two giants and we are led to the right where a row of waiters and waitresses hold trays of blue drinks, dubbed ‘Blue Spartan’, which one of the waiters informs me is a cocktail of rum and blue raspberry.

After taking a sip I’m pretty sure it was actually petrol and Grunt blood.

Most people seemed to concur judging by the vast amount of these ‘Dead Smurf’ drinks left half full (or half empty pending on your outlook on life) on the various surfaces around the venue and the universal question of the night becomes ‘Got any beer mate?’.

They did. By the truckload. I saw the trucks!

After a few twists and turns and a flight of stairs, which become more and more challenging as the nights free bar takes its toll, we arrive at a seating area littered with small chairs and sofas.
The latest Halo: Reach trailer is being projected onto a nearby wall and a few people stop to admire it but the mighty majority soldier forth, the rumour of an open bar ringing in their ears.

It is here I spot Sentuamessage’s notoriously handsome Andy Farrant and after an awkward Twitter moment when I receive a reply from Andy to my tweet about spotting him, I head over to say hello.

We chat about the Halo: Reach event, the impending release date and his thoughts on the latest Halo title until he mentioned that he’d come to the event just having been playing Dead Rising 2.

Me being me, I begin to grill him on his thoughts and start trying to prise any info I could from him.
The most I got were a few of his favourite weapon combinations, which were the vacuum and saw blades and the torch and gems, the latter of which equated to a probable lawsuit from a certain lover of Ewoks.

If there is one word I could use to describe the main room it would be ‘hot’.

I get hot fairly easily but it's like hanging out in the circles of Hell, which some will say we were being attendees of a Microsoft event.

The free bar quickly becomes my best friend, and one guys worst enemy as he left a nice trail of vomit from the bar to the gents later on in the evening.

Beer was easily the choice drink of the night and for some reason the bar didn’t seem prepared for this and were continually running out and having to getting more and more delivered by the truckload.
I suppose with people such as 'Big Brothers' Sam Pepper and the cast of Hollyoaks on the guest list they weren’t expecting a rag tag bunch of common gamers…at the launch of one of the biggest video game titles ever.

The main stage is currently vacant with the exception of a few chairs and a large projection of the Xbox 360 logo.
It is here that ‘Team Slayer’ and ‘Noble Team’ will do battle, or in Noble Team’s case, try not to get massacred. A task which they fail miserably.

A couple of hours and quite a few beers later, presenter Reggie Yates, compare for the evening, walks onto stage, mic and cue cards in hand.

Now I’m not quite sure how this happened exactly but for some reason that night, I became Reggie’s bitch.

From what I recall, Reggie was reading some facts about the Halo franchise, quite obviously, from his cue cards and trying to get the crowd riled up by asking who had pre-ordered Reach, who was excited for the match and so forth.

Now when Reggie asked who had pre-ordered Halo 3 I remember raising my hand.

The hand with my beer in.

The hand that I had for some reason moved into some sort of ‘gangsta’ pose.

The hand that I left in the air as I yelled ‘Heeeelll yeah!’ as if I was some sort of chart topping rap star asking if he liked guns, money and bitches.

Our eyes locked.

“Did you see what this guy did?!”

Reggie re-enacts my pose for the crowd. Badly, I might add.

“What’s your name mate?”
“Ben. You are the coolest person here tonight”

And so proclaimeth Reggie, I am the coolest person at this event, which honestly didn’t mean as much as you think it would.
For the rest of his time spent onstage, I was the guy who Reggie went to when his attempts to engage the audience didn’t work.
Each time I obliged willingly.

This is why I shouldn’t drink.

One by one, the celebrity team members are brought onstage, with Manchester United centre back, Rio Ferdinand and ‘Gadget Show’ presenter extraordinaire, Jason Bradbury provoking the biggest reactions from the crowd, unless you count mass confusion and murmurs of ‘who?’ when Mr Hudson was brought on.

It was pretty clear before any of them had even picked up a controller that Jason Bradbury was going to be the only celebrity on ‘Noble Team’ that was going to be of any real danger to the opposing gamers (confirmed later when I found out that he had the highest kill count out of the celebrities) and the only one who looked even remotely comfortable in a room full of gamers.

‘Noble Team’ are to be captained by 17 year-old Nottinghamshire local, Lewis Chapman, who fragged, beat down and teabagged his way to the top of almost 800 other entrants of the ‘Looking For A Leader’ competition and when talking to Reggie during his intro, seemed convinced that he had more of a chance of pulling Pixie Lott than winning these games tonight.

The opposition, ‘Team Slayer’ are brought onto stage, briefly harassed by Reggie and then everyone settled in as the matches begun.

In short, it's an unsurprising total massacre.

Round 1: Team Slayer win 51 – 15
Round 2: Team Slayer win 64 – 10 (9 of the Noble Team kills belonging to Lewis)
Round 3: Team Slayer win 94 – 27

Trophies are handed out to the winning Team Slayer and Noble Team captain Lewis. The captain of Team Slayer swaps his much larger trophy with Lewis smaller one.
True sportsmanship amongst gamers here tonight. We aren't so tough without our headsets.

Reggie rounds up the end of the evenings entertainment by announcing that on the far side of the room, 40 booths are available to us so that attendees can have a go on Reach before it’s official release date.
It's great to see that Firefight has made a triumphant return amongst some new multiplayer match types and to revisit some familiar maps from the beta.

There was some controversy around this time as all the attendees who decided that they didn’t fancy playing Reach and left, or as I call them ‘the freeloading non-gamers’, were the first to get to the goody bags, a fair few of which contained Halo Reach controllers, a hoody and strategy guide whilst the dedicated many got left with just the bags containing a press release print out.

Not even a Noble 6 Avatar code.

Now I’m not going to try and criticise the organisers too much, seeing as they’re picking up the bar tab, but surely it would have been a better idea to have given the bags out upon entry to the event, ensuring that those who cared enough about the event to be at the front of the line got the best of the freebies.

This was the general consensus on Twitter for the next 24hrs.

I catch up with Lewis after the matches to congratulate him on winning the competition and to ask him some questions about the celebrity team training.

Lewis informs me that he had about 30 minutes with the team just before the event and that the matches were the first time that Mr Hudson had even played the game.
He is also pretty annoyed that ‘you can’t teach Rio Ferdinand about spawn kills’ which I instantly want to have printed on a t-shirt with a picture of Rio in Spartan uniform getting assassinated from behind.

The rest of the night was spent doing what gamers do best. Playing video games and cussing each other out.

All in all, the night was a success.
I left feeling even more excited to get my hands on my own pre-order and in desperate need of the loo.

Cheers Microsoft!

I might even get this printed.

Friday, 21 May 2010

New blog

Well, er, kinda.

Things have gotten stale around here (especially seeing as I haven't posted anything in a very, very long time) so being the wonderful procrastinator that I am, I deem a change in name and layout a suitable submission to satisfy my guilt.

Introducing 'Ben Meets World'!

Exactly the same, but with a wittier title and slightly more colourful graphic!

I promise to post something up soon.
I have half a draft blog about film-making sitting waiting to be finished.

I'll get it done...tomorrow...

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Here's looking at you, cig

Yes, I am part of the dying (quite literally) group that society likes to prefix labels to such as 'dirty' and 'filthy'.

The group that will under any form of weather condition, still find a way to get their hit.

The group that in the past decade has been shunned from our typical haunts and went from 'cool' to...'not cool'.

I am a smoker.

Not only that but I am a regular smoker.
Not one of you cool 'casual' smokers who only smokes 'when I'm really drunk, yeah'.

So why with all the health warnings, the social stigmatism and the smoking ban do I and my fellow smokers continue to partake in this habit?

Even more to the point, with all the general knowledge around smoking, why do these 'casual' smokers smoke at all?

Let's look at some of the social history of smoking.

We all remember when smoking used to be cool.
Up until recently, films have been telling us this for decades.

The tough-as-nails cop. The loose cannon in his department who arrives at the crime scene of a murder, hat tipped low and surrounded by a haze of smoke. He pops the collar of his trench coat and takes a long draw from his cigarette.

If a police officer tried doing that nowadays, he'd probably be reprimanded for smoking in the workplace and contaminating a crime scene.

The stereotypical 'bad ass' character who would wake up in his dingy apartment and throw on a grubby white vest and beaten leather jacket, emblazoned with a society defying patch like 'rebel' sewn onto it.
He would swagger downstairs to his Harley Davidson motorcycle where he would pop on his shades and spark up a cigarette as he wheelspinned and roared away, leaving bystanders in a cloud of dust with the smell of exhaust fumes and danger.

If you saw someone do that nowadays, you would think they were a complete arrogant arse but in the 50's, he was one cool character.

None of these stereotypes are deemed 'cool' anymore because of how 'cool' changes throughout the generations (however for some reason, the 00's appear to think the 80's were the best thing ever, whereas the 90's laughs at them whilst dancing to Take That in their neon legwarmers and crimped hair. Very cool.)

Smoking appears to have gone down on the same neon ship.

Somewhere around the turn of the millenium, smoking started to disappear from the movies.
I assume it had something to do with the large amount of press that cancer and it's links to smoking was receiving that finally stubbed out the Hollywood cigarette trend.

So smokers aren't lighting up because it's cool anymore, so let's look at the health aspects.

It wasn't until 1950 when Richard Doll first published his findings in the British Medical Journal showing the first evidential link between smoking and cancer and it wasn't until 1971 when the first health warning's were put on cigarette packs in the UK.

Smoking has been attributed to heart attacks, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and most notably, cancer but despite our knowledge of all of this, we still smoke.
Smokers are constantly being discouraged to stop smoking due to health reasons.

The first anti-smoking campaign was started in the late 1920's in Nazi Germany, with Hitler himself even deeming cigarettes 'a waste of his money'.
The message never crossed the border of Nazi-Germany due to the Second World War and was eventually silenced at the end of WWII by American cigarette companies illegally smuggling tobacco into Germany.

The biggest tackle on smoking so far has been the public smoking ban, enforced in the UK in 2007, due to research generating evidence against the harmful effects of second hand smoke.
Conveniently, the NHS started up the 'SmokeFree' programme offering free nicotine replacement products and support and supermarkets everywhere had 'special offers' on items such as 'Nicotinell' for a good few months.
It was recorded that 164,711 UK smokers quit after the smoking ban came in.

We all know smokers who have quit. Most have had their 'last cigarette' for about the 400th time.
Most smokers and non-smokers will put this down to nicotine addiction.

Although I regularly smoke up to 5 roll-up cigarettes a day, I do not consider myself to be addicted to nicotine. I am addicted to smoking.
When I don't smoke I don't suffer the 'typical' nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

The only time I smoke is when I am at work or if I am out and unless either of these things occur over the weekend, I won't smoke then either.
This is probably more likely due to a matter of convenience as I am not permitted to smoke in my flat, whereas in our old place I would smoke all the time.

I particularly liked partaking in the stereotype of 'the smoking writer' because I like the glamourisation of the old black and white flicks of the man at the typewriter in a haze of smoke; stabbing out another cigarette into the overflowing ashtray as he takes a gulp of his coffee; black of course.

I enjoy smoking.

For quite some time I was under the impression that all smokers enjoy smoking; this is why they do it; but after talking to a lot of friends and co-workers who I have watched quit and complain about the 'gritty' nicotine gum and useless patches, each one returning to smoking a couple of weeks later, every one says that they don't actually like smoking and spark up just to quench the craving.

The group of smokers huddled outside under a dark cloud, complaining about their addiction with each drag of their 'cancer stick'.
There is a sense of camaraderie. A shared burden.

Is the social side what casual smokers like about smoking?

After all of this, I'm still not sure why there are 'casual' smokers, probably because I have never been one.

Us smokers are stuck. We're hooked despite it not being cool, healthy or socially acceptable.
You casuals have a choice.

Plus it's really irritating when you're always bumming cigarettes off of us.
It appears we've got enough problems.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Today, I made another word.

I am currently trying to finish 2 blogs that I have started writing, but due to difficulties at work and home it has proven difficult to finish them.


Today I made another word.

To be incredibly hungry for something that is especially delicious or 'nommy'.
'I could really go for some sweet and sour chicken balls right now'
'Yeah me too, I'm so nomgry!'

Use it daily.

I would like to have contributed a word to the world before the end of my days.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

You had me at 'hello hot stuff!'

How the hell do us blokes ever manage to bag a girl?

I am asking this question because I have found myself watching a small selection of chick flicks over the past few evenings.

Yes I watch chick flicks. Sometimes out of choice. Some of them are quite good.

Stop judging me.

During my feminine film fest, I have noticed that there are two types of chick flicks.

The 'find Prince Charming and my life will be fantastic' chick flick and the 'unappreciated woman overcoming her peers and becoming a strong woman' chick flick.
Most of the time these get mixed together and you get the 'unappreciated women finding Prince Charming whilst overcoming her peers and becoming a strong woman whilst looking fabulous' chick flick.

Regardless of the title on the box, you can guarantee it's always going to be pretty much the same old tired story with the latest 'it' thespians filling in the roles of 'damsel in distress' and 'Prince Charming'.

Yes I know it's meant to be fictional, film is escapism etc but these films promote some insanely high requirements for any man attempting to 'woo' a woman.

Do men 'woo' anymore?

Do we even say 'woo' anymore?

Is the fact we aren't 'wooing' or saying 'woo' part of the problem?

Divorce rates are higher than ever and people aren't getting these 'happy endings' we were promised when we were younger.
Is this because life just doesn't worj out like that or because we are preconditioned to have these set standards that chick flicks tell us?

Looking at the chick flicks key demographic, the female gender, they have been raised with the ideals of the fairytale life from childhood.

Chick flicks are the logical graduation from classic Disney.

There is even a 150,000 member strong Facebook group titled 'I blame Disney for my high expectation of men'.

This ideal is the hunky, fantastically charming (and usually British or at least very well spoken) gentleman who sweeps the insanely 'perfect' or 'nerdy, unattractive looking who gets good looking, but extremely unsuccessful and overlooked female off her feet with a backdrop of a series of moderately comedic incidents, allowing her to get the man and the success all at once.

'Get hot and even you can succeed at life!'

Women should be outraged by this message, but for some insane reason they love it!

Women always seem to want to watch these films about the young, plain (well, plain in Movieland) girl who gets the perfect guy by completley changing who she is and I just don't get why women want to watch this.
Is the fact that the protagonist changes herself to get the guy overlooked because she gets this 'perfect' man?

Maybe studios are catching on though as there are some small victories for the 'everyman' occurring within the genre.

I recently watched 'The Holiday' and with the exception of Jude Law and Kate Winslet being forced to read the Americans version of 'British' dialogue (ie 'Oh bugger it. It's all gone frightfully wrong'. It's not bloody Merry Poppins!), I enjoyed it.

This is primarily due to Jack Black's character.

Here is a short, not fantastic looking guy who is funny and charming and ends up being the object of desire for Kate Winselt's character, and it's not done in a matter of 'oh, she's settling for the funny little chubby man' but as 'heartfelt' a story as the relationship development between Cameron Diaz and Jude Law, who spent the majority of the movie humping each other and feeling 'frightfully awful' about the 'sticky wicket' they had found themselves in.

Chubby man and the Winslet's relationship has more substance. Interesting.

We need more realistic characters in chick flicks.

The world is not full of these 21st century Prince Charmings and Cinderellas yet we are encouraged to look for these people and not settle for anything less.
Even the female protagonists in these films have the same problem.
We all remember the sofa and ice cream scene from Bridget Jones...and any other generic chick flick.
But it all works out for the better once they get the man, once again reiterating that this is what they should be aspiring to.

'Shallow Hal' is one of my favourite films of all time.
It's not brilliantly written or beautifully shot, but what a story!

We have this male character who is filled with the typical chick flick ideals of the 'perfect girl' and we see how much of a jerk he comes across as for spending all his efforts trying to get the 'hot' girls.
After some psychic jiggey pokery he can only see the inner beauty of women and falls insanely in love with a rather, quite overdone, plus size woman and they have their 'happy ever after' even after he see's her for how she really is.

We need more Jack Black's in chick flicks!

Why can't we have 'normal' looking people in these films?

I am fortunate enough to have found the special gal I want to spend the rest of my days annoying and I am quite obviously not fitting the archetypal 'hunk', more of a 'chunk', that all these films are telling women that they should be chasing after so what are us blokes doing right or have women just given up the dream?

Steph loves Disney and still watches the flicks at 22 so what is it that girls love about these films?

Girls, let me know what you think.
Do women still have this idea of the fairytale ending?
Are you still after their Prince Charming or have you sculpted your own?
Are you settling for 'chunk' rather than 'hunk'?

Guys, does watching these films make you change who you are?

Leave me a comment below!

Monday, 1 March 2010

'University Challenged'

Before we being the usual ramblings I would like to state that I have just consumed some dodgy chicken dippers and my stomach appears to have decided to consume itself rather than let the dippers do it in.

As I am typing this, it is making the most intense growling and gurgling noises, serving as a pre-warning to the immense feeling of shittyness that I will be experiencing throughout the next 24 hours.

Also, for the hell of it, my left ring finger has decided to start bleeding around the cuticle.

This could be a firm indication that I am not to eat unknowingly tainted poultry products and that I am being punished for not having taken a further education by not having the 'smarts' to do so.

Which in a roundabout way brings me to the subject of todays blog.

My name is Ben Cordell and I did not attend university.

'But your vocabulary is extensive, your writing is so eloquent and your blog topics contain such worldy affairs' I hear you cry.

True, but I also eat bad chicken.

When meeting new people, I often get asked what university I attend(ed) and am quite often met with looks of surprise when I state that I didn't attend university.
I don't think this is because of how I present myself or of their knowledge of my skills but more to do with the social stigmatism of someone who hasn't attended university.

It's considered a social norm.

You grow up. Go to school Go to college. Go to university. Get a good job. Get married. Have kids. Get old. Die.

We all know this walk of life.

But there's always one part of that process that makes me smile.

'Go to university. Get a GOOD job.'

We are built with a pre-conception that you need to attend university in order to get, in whatever sense you wish to interpret the phrase, a 'good job'.

There have been many successful people who do or did not possess a university education. Some didn't even possess a basic education, so where do we come up with this idea that in order to be successful, you need to attend university?

I deem myself to be semi successful.
I have a full time semi-skilled job, I rent my own place and I still work on my career in film-making.

But I did not attend university.
I barely attended 6th Form College.

6th Form College appealed to me as students get the opportunity to select their own curriculum.
This made total sense to me as towards the end of secondary school I was getting bored by having to learn subjects I just wasn't interested in.
'Let them learn what they want to learn, that way they can't become disinterested and get bad grades'.
I believe the same ideal ties in with university.

This would have all worked out fine for me except for a few problems.

I was 'persuaded' to take English Literature because of my good grades and was promised lots of creative writing. This wasn't the case and arguments with my Eng Lit tutor leading to a stern drop in attendance.

Media Studies at 'A Level' grade felt the same as GCSE Media Studies, so again my attention wandered until the practicals came around and I got to utilise my skills and passions, which would frequently pay off.

Film Studies was a given for me but my tutor had to call for technical help when trying to operate a DVD player, so you can imagine my feelings towards that aspect of my education.

Theatre Studies was a secondary option to Photography.
Now I wish I had pushed for it more as it would be a lot more useful to me now as opposed to learning Stanislavskian acting techniques, however I did meet a lot of good people, especially Mr Ed Hallwood who also shared my passion for film and shared similair aspirations of cinema glory.
He now teaches English is Vietnam and is still the sickest freestyle rapper I know.

My experience at 6th Form for me was an insight into what university had in store for me.

I remember towards the end everyone had begun starting to look at universities, talk about prospectus', go to open days and stress about the grades they needed to get in.

This all just breezed by me.
Maybe it was the my battle with alcohol at the time or perhaps I was just desperate to try and get out of this part of education with something relatively decent to show for it that I didn't care what came after.

I think I looked at 2 universities during my final year at BHASVIC.
One was the New York Film Academy and the other was a school in Canada.

They were obviously both incredibly unrealistic options but I think I felt that I needed to look to convince myself that university, or any sort of further education, is not what I wanted but I think I wanted to check just to fit in (back to the social norm!).

In my last year I had taken some great steps towards reaching my goal of breaking into the film business.

I had worked as a runner and assistant adjudicator on a game show at London Television Studios.
I had started up my own 'production company' titled 'Cathartic Studios' and was shooting live videos for bands I knew (as you know, I still run this company now and progressed onto shooting live videos for bands I didn't know, as well as some non-linear interview pieces).
A friend of the family, Guy Feldman, started giving me editing work and became a mentor to me. He eventually scored me a junior editor position at 'Back2Back Productions' in Brighton where I got to work on the Paul Potts piece that was shown on ITV and got my first national credit and admittance to the IMDB.
Closer to home, my practical pieces had picked up great grades and 'BHASVICTORS', which are basically awards the college gives out and I had curbed my drinking.

Everything out in the real world seemed to be working out great.
I didn't need to stay in education.

These were steps to being successful.

The majority of my friends went off to university, either to better themselves or as my dear friend Dave Wells stated, 'put off the inevitable'.
A few stayed behind or travelled to far off lands, to either 'find themselves' or...put off the inevitable.

I was one of the ones who stayed behind. In a sense.

I attended 'The School Of Life' (or 'The Cheesy Cliche Academy')

For me, only two types of people go to university.
Those who want to better their education and those who want to put off 'real life' and I didn't fit into either of those categories.

My passion for film-making took me all across the UK and I got to see some incredible things, and a lot of disturbing things too (touring with bands is an experience for sure).
I got to meet new people and made some amazing new friends who am still very close to.

Unfortunately as I grew, the place in which I grew up got much smaller and soon wasn't enough for me anymore.
After about a year, film-making wasn't taking me to these places anymore and the new 'big' me (quite literally as well. The School Of Life involves a terrible diet!) was stuck in the the small place.

I went back to familiar territory and started to film local bands again to gain some income and keep the portfolio growing but it soon wasn't enough for my Mum and Step-Dad and I was told I had to get a real job.

I was a builder. I worked as a checkout operator and eventually landed at Addaction as a Modality Administrator. And I'm still there today.

So what if I didn't go to university and what I'm doing right now isn't anything to do with film making? Does that make me unsuccessful?

In the years since the end of college to now, I have pursued my career, travelled the country, met the girl I want to spend my life with, got my own place and I am still working towards hitting my dream career.

In the years since the end of college to now, friends of mine have dropped out of college, stayed on because they still don't know what to do and graduated and are in exactly the same position I am. And they still have to do everything I just did.

I'm not saying university is right or wrong.
It gives people an option.

An option to better there education.
An option to increase their career prospects.
An option to put off 'real life' for just a bit longer.
An option to not go to university.

Just because someone hasn't attended university it doesn't mean they will be unsuccessful.

It just means they've probably got better things to do.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Harry Potter & The Terrible Finale

This is a blog I wrote in 2007 just after 'Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows' had come out.
It was probably the first actual blog I wrote and I have made a few very small changes. Opinion remains the same.
I am posting it here for posterity and someone asked me about it on FormSpring

I finished it in 7 hours and to be honest...this was immensely disappointing.
Even from the moment I bought it and said 'wow...is that it?', I knew that this wasn't going to please the majority of people.


There were no real revelations in this book, as there have been in its predecessors. They were either predicatable or you'd worked it out already, and I missed the shock value.

The majority of the deaths were waay too rushed, especially Lupin and Tonks which just made me pretty pissed off.

They are two major characters who had just had a kid of their own, and there wasn't even a single moment to dwell on their deaths, what had happened to them or anything!
Fred's wasn't much better either, but at least you knew how he had died and how the family reacted.

The previous 3 books have had major deaths in them, and I'll admit it, they brought a tear to my eye, and that just wasn't the case in this one. It was a bit like, "oh, they're dead. Shit. Anyway..."
I suppose you can argue that JK wrote it in this way to 'get the reader involved in the pace of the story and the fact that none of the characters had time to dwell on the deaths' but in my opinion, that's just pretentious bullshit!

In regards to Voldemort at the end, okay sure, all of his horcruxes are gone and its bound to affect him somehow, but fucking hell he was still a bitchin wizard, so why the hell is he having so much trouble finishing off 3 wizards! He didn't even kill one!

The whole sequence seemed so pantomime and rushed. It seemed as if JK was trying to round everything up in Harry's speech. I was expecting at least one vaguely epic battle between Harry and Voldemort like we got in books 4&5, but no apparently not.
Even the epic castle siege battle wasn't that epic.

Now I move onto Snape and Lily...well who the fuck DIDN'T see that coming?!

I had cracked that little chestnut from book 1!
If you go back and read the previous books, you will pick up more and more on these little moments.
It was good to see all the stuff with Dumbledore and the planning though...

For me, most of the book is just Harry, Ron and Hermione wandering aimlessly around the UK trying to work out how to pull their wands out of their arses.
Again, it is a matter of complete luck that they manage to find any horcruxes or any major revelations to their quest, which was disappointing as it reminded me of the first books.
With every sequel, the books grow up and so had the characters and you would think our three heroes are meant to be pretty badass now so you think they'd be able to work out a little of what the fuck they are meant to be doing.

Ron and Hermiones kiss.


After reading about this chase relationship for years and years you are just going to sum it up in one quick little kiss which is disrupted by Harry shouting "oi, we're in the middle of a battle here"...FUCK YOU JK ROWLING! Not happy with that at all!

Now let's get down to what really grinds my gears about this book.

The 19 years later part.

Congratulations! We know what happened to four of the characters!

Hell I wanna know what happened to George, how everyone got through all their losses, how Ron/Hermione & Harry/Ginnys relationship developed and why the hell the Death Eaters didn't just carry on kicking arse, regardless of the fact that Voldemort was dead!

You've just written this massive battle, the fall of the dark lord and all this other shit and you're just gonna skip 19 years so we can watch their kids get on a train!


Also, how come Harry can suddenly use Unforgivable Curses?

"You have to mean it" Bellatrix says when he tries one on her.
Frankly, I think he'd mean it more after she just killed his only family rather than on some random goblins in Gringotts...

In summary, for me this book reads like the movie script.
It's too rushed and nothing is really dwelled on. I refuse to believe that this is how JK Rowling intended to end Harry Potter. Personally I think she would have killed him off.

Hopefully, once all of the hum drum of the films has blow over she will release another version of the book, her version, because this isn't it. Not by a long shot.

(This edit was about a week after my first readthrough)

I have just re-read the book and needless to say, my opinions haven't changed on it at all.

It still reads like the movie script and there is too much waffling. I still also don't appreciate the vast amount of major characters that were killed off and that it skips an entire 19 years!

However, it has been revealed that a Harry Potter Encyclopedia is being released with answers to all the questions that any devoted Harry Potter fan has regarding what happens next.
It is rumoured RRP is £25.


This woman will be living off this book for the rest of her days, and good on her!

It was a damn good story only tainted by the fact that Warner got involved. I think it would have been a much better idea to produce the films after the 7th book, that way JK still has her free reign over the story. I refuse to believe that Warner didn't have a hand in what direction the story took.

Unfortunately everyone feels the need to make as much money as they can so the films were produced.

As the books got further on, coinciding with the release of the films, you can see a literary change in the way that the books read more and more like a film, which is crap, for lack of a better argument.

It is a shame that a fantastic story that developed for a good while was affected so brutally by the films. When you read the books you can feel the heart of a fantastic story but as the books progress you just wish that there was more literary feel to it, rather than reading a film.

To this day I still feel the same way.

I will say however, thank the stars for David Yates who saved the films!
Order of the Phoenix and Half Blood Prince are my favourite books and David Yates did a fantastic job of representing them on film.

I am very excited to see how the 'Deathly Hallows' films.

Yes, plural.

Of course this is the final chance to properly cash in on the Harry Potter franchise so splitting the film in two makes perfect sense from a business perspective.
The fact that it is one of the shorter books doesn't irritate me at all...

Regardless, bring on the finale!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Ask me anything!...please...

So like the social networking butterfly I am, I joined FormSpring.

I was one of the first amongst my friends and it appears to be catching on a little more now.

I prefer it to something like Twitter, which is essentially a series of very dull status updates such as 'I am eating a grape. It had a seed. Yuck' and 'I am on the bus. God, it's boring.' and it's a nice break from the constant status updates and pictures of 'the night of 1000 shots' that Facebook has to offer.

The idea of anybody from your nearest and dearest to complete strangers (pending on where you post your FormSpring URL) being able to pose questions, anonymously or not, to myself appealed to me for several reasons.

Firstly, give people anonymity and they will think they are invincible.

This is why the internet is as successful as it is.

People think they are amazing and enjoy tearing other people down, especially when there is no or very little chance at a backlash.
Check any YouTube videos comments for examples.

Giving these people the chance to ask me questions anonymously gave them opportunities to:
- Confess their feelings, amorous or spiteful
-Ask questions they want to know the answer to without revealing their personal interest
-Be honest!

Anonymous questions make you curious.

You're almost positive it's someone who is on your Facebook (or wherever you post the link) and it must be someone who gave a damn enough to bother clicking on the link and typing, but who?

One of my friends actually requested that I post all my questions anonymously for this exact reason.

Secondly, I like the idea of people taking an interest in my life.

As I said, people think they are amazing and like to be told so.
FormSpring is a very egotistical website and it can swing both ways.

High number in Inbox, wicked. Low or none in Inbox, bummer, no-one gives a fuck.
It's usually the latter. I blame apathy and the fact the site is still growing.

Shut up. It's probably true!

Lastly, it makes you think.

Someone, who is taking things seriously, could pose a question to you that maybe you hadn't even thought of.
A question that allows you to assess where you are in life. What are my goals? Where am I now? Am I happy?
It could make you step back, take a look at that aspect of your life and go 'hmmmmm'.

Typically though, you'll just be asked something along the lines of 'If you had the chance to punch a whale, would you?'

It will be interesting to see how this site grows, especially how media, celebrities and businesses use it.
We've seen it happen to the best of them.


Each have had their moment in the sun and have grown into something else.

You want to check out the latest bands, signed or unsigned, you hit up MySpace.
Want to know what your friends are up to and what events are coming up, Facebook is your friend.
Feel the need to update people about your life constantly? Get Twitter (blogs are like so 2008!)

I am going to keep using FormSpring.

I want to see where this one goes.

If you feel like asking me a question, you can find my FormSpring link in the sidebar on the right.

UPDATE: The day after posting this, 5 of my friends joined FormSpring and another 3 posted questions anonysmously without signing up!

99 lives but I just need one

"Does anybody rent video games anymore?"

I found myself asking this question after a discussion with my partner about our LoveFilm membership and the possibility of upgrading.

LoveFilm for those that don't know, is a great service where you get to rent DVD's and games, keep them as long as you like with no late fees, and then send them back for another. Free postage!
All for a monthly fee based on a variety of packages they on offer that fluctuate how many discs you can have at a time, whether you want access to DVD's, games or both etc etc

This all works very well, as long as you remember to actually watch the films and send them back.

For a p2p filesharer and an avid purchaser of DVD's, this can prove to be quite the challenge at times.
(Ironically enough, we decided to get LoveFilm to reduce the amount we were spending on our HMV binge sessions)

But I digress.

Steph (my partner) suggested that we upgrade our membership to include game rentals as she is forever moaning that she only has about 5 games herself out of the extensive catalogue we possess.

And so here we are.

Do people rent video games anymore?

Gaming has changed dramatically in the past decade.
We've had several new consoles, a change from catridge to disc, wireless and motion capture gaming, online gaming and even the games themselves have changed to reflect this.

Only a few years ago we only had a few genres of games and each of these were very linear and close ended.
You start, you battle the bad guys, you beat the boss, get the girl, game over.
This could be done in an afternoon.

Nowadays you have side missions, online multiplayer, open endings that allow you to continue gaming after you have completed the main storyline and one of the biggies, downloadable content.

Downloadable content can keep a game alive for years as long as new, fresh and enticing content is released such as new missions and new multiplayer maps.
For £30 with an occassional investment, you can keep your favourite game going for a lot longer than games you used to get pre X360/PS3 providing the developer keeps releasing content.

Every next gen gamer has a favourite online FPS that they will pop in to 'pwn a few noobs' once in a while to take a break from the strict storylines.
Whether it's Halo or COD, majority of the people who buy those games on release day are there for the online multiplayer, not the story itself.

Halo ODST is a prime example.

Get the game, finish the story, LETS FIREFIGHT!!!

Where Bungie fecked up on Firefight though is they didn't have an open lobby. You could only team up and fight off the Covenant with peeps from your buddy list.
This is most likely why they decided to include a separate Halo 3 multiplayer disc with all the DLC maps included in order not to exclude an already successful product that gamers love to play.

Entire games have been developed purely for online multiplayer, such as the recent 'Section 8'.
Section 8 matches consist of teams on a map fulfilling a series of typical multiplayer scenarios such as CTF, Protect the VIP etc.
Oddly enough though, the game didn't seem to take off as well as people thought it might and the majority of people went back to the warm embrace of Halo and COD.

So even with the ability to rent a game and play it with no late fees, developers seem to be trying to find ways to keep us gamers buying their games and staying hooked to them.

Bioware reward Mass Effect 2 buyers of the new game with access to the 'Cerberus Network', entitling them to an array of future free DLC after a project developed by EA to specifically combat gamers purchasing 2nd hand.

I for one occassionally pine for the days when you could just beat up the bad guys and save the day game over, which is probably why I still have and use my old consoles, such as the Megadrive, NES and N64.


Xbox Live Arcade provides you with old games from platformers to arcade classics for a small fee!
For as little as 400MS, you can be MegaMan or Sonic and relive those glorious 16/32bit days, and all from one console!

In conclusion, I don't think any serious gamer rents titles anymore.

There used to be an excitement tied to going to the video store, picking up the latest Crash Bandicoot and grinding it for 2 days straight because that's the time limit you had until it had to go back to the store.

The same way you used to play your heart out in the cartridge days because there was no save points or password.

Maybe we're getting those kicks from somewhere else these days.
Maybe gamers have evolved with the consoles and the market.

Either way, I'm going to stick to renting DVD's and buying my games.

Who knows what DLC they'll release next...

Monday, 22 February 2010

It's sickening

Being sick that is.

I have been sick most of weekend after feeling spectacularly crappy all week so I haven't been able to think coherently enough to write a blog.

However, I gathered a lot of inspiration from my 80's movie revival fest on Sunday and a discussion into video game rental so will have something with a little more substance soon.

Stay tuned

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Today, I made a word.

Taken by mixing the word 'festival' and 'testicle' to define a rubbish or 'bollocks' festival/public event.
'You going to the 'Generic Festival/Event' this year?'
'Nah man, it's a goddamn festical...'

UPDATE: 'Festical' has been approved by urbandictionary.com :)

Queing in the name of...

So this morning has been exciting!

First time I have come to work early in forever and what is it for?
RATM tickets.

After getting massively over excited when I received my code yesterday (I thought I had actually got tickets) I was slightly confused as to why they chose a Wednesday morning at 9am to hold the 'ticket lottery'.

Majority of the UK starts work at 9am and not everyone has the 'pleasure' of a job where they sit on their arse at a computer with internet access.

I arrive at 8.45am (a new record for me) and collect my details, write them on a piece of paper and open up the ticket link ready to go...

The mood is intense.

The link goes up 5mins early (not at all surprising as this has happened to me many times before and this time, I'm prepared) and I get lobbed into a queue.

This queue lasts a very long time.

I am encouraged by the page to refresh it and after a few refreshes I decide to leave it as it automatically refreshes every 20 seconds.

20 seconds pass.

The page jams.


Blank page.

The mood turns to panic.

I frantically try every link I can think of but am denied access every time!
I try other websites. All load fine. Probably due to the heavy traffic.

I get onto Facebook and frequently post my frustration and dismay in a variety of statuses until a glimmer of magic appears.

Mr Stuart O'Connor is online.

I enquire into the status of his quest for tickets and he is indeed 'Queing in the name of'.'

I return to my efforts of repeatedly copying and pasting both of the ticket links into IE and Firefox. Still nothing.

My phone vibrates.

Alana has text me letting me know Stu has scored tickets for them both and do I want to send her my codes. FUCK YES I DO!

I tippity tap mine and Steph's codes and postcode and hit the send button.
I make a quick stop to tell Stu what a lucky 'bastaf' he is and go back to wearing out my F5 button.

Stu shoots me a message back to say not only has he booked his and Lana's tickets, but a pair for his mate and is now on the booking page for me!
This man ate his 'Lucky Charms' this morning!

The next few minutes are a blur.
I frantically throw him my card details (tickets are being sent recorded delivery and cost £9 but what do I give a crap, 15mins ago I couldn't get on the fucking page!)

A minute that seems like a day passes and a message appears in the FB chat box.

'hellllllllll yaaaaa
ur going boy!!!'


I'm not sure what to do so I post a status raising Stu to a legendary godlike status and announce the extreme length and girth of his gentials.

I am going to see RATM.

Stuart O'Connor. Luckiest, well hung legend alive.

It's good to have friends.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Trains. And banks.



Can someone explain to why train companies feel like they can justify hiking up ticket prices (this is the third time this year prices have been raised, on 2 occasions, no public notice was given) yet they can't run an effective service.

I paid £18.70 for a return from Portslade to Crawley...the journey takes about 50mins.
Today it took me 1:15hrs to get to work and 2:30 to get home.

Every time I plan to get on a train (which is now about twice a week) there is some spectacular fuck up that delays it, always during rush hours as well it seems.
WHere the fuck is this extra money going if not on making our service more efficient? I want to see some results. Some bang for my buck.

Anyone else had any spectacular train debacles (yes, DEBACLES) recently, or am I alone here?

Next up, banks.

Now today I got my card eaten by an ATM, the second time in 6 months.

This one let me view my balance as well before it decided to crash when I decided I wanted to take some money out.

Did my balance offend it?

Was it some sort of secret series of numbers that look particularly delicious?

Should I stop buying take out with my bank card so the machine doesn't think it's food?

So yes, I had to call the helpline.
And where do the banks place the 'Lost or Stolen' helpline number.
Of course.
The back of you bank card.
Which is in an ATM.
A system designed to make the withdrawals of cash quicker and more efficient. Yeah.

WHY do NONE of these banks put the helpline number on their ATM's?!
I had to ask several strangers if they had Barclays bank cards to get a helpline number. Pretty sure most were convinced I was the most amateur con artist ever, but eventually some old dude (cheers old dude) let me use his.

10 WORKING DAYS I HAVE TO WAIT FOR A NEW BANK CARD! My account has also been locked. Wicked.
I will now have to reset my eBay and PayPal as well, which as any of its users now, is a complete motherfecken.

For an added insult to injury, the machine actually rebooted itself this time! And yet no, even after a few clicks, no bank card.

Banks, stop using Windows to run your ATM's or at least put a helpline number on there (with someone who speaks english clearly as well would be nice)

Next time I go to town I'm going to take the bus and ask go to the counter in the bank and ask politely that the cashier doesn't gobble down my card.

The BT saga continues

I decided to do some digging into their fair use policy.

I'm glad I'm on the 'Unlimited' useage plan otherwise I would be paying an extra £1 for every GB. This month would have = £146

Taken from BT's site regarding their 'Fair Useage' policy:
'Customers who are classified as very heavy users will experience significantly reduced speed at peak times (typically 5pm-midnight every day but these times may change depending on the demand on the network) for a period of 30 days, or for as long as very heavy use continues. This applies to customers on all Options.'

Then why the fuck am I getting throttled from 9am - midnight?!
And why the hell is my Xbox Live NAT still strict?!

Basically, if you are a heavy uploader, a heavy downloader, a p2p filesharer or a gamer...don't use BT...

I wonder if Virgin has an 'Unlimited Unlimited' package....?

Aren't BT great?!

I have a BT Homehub.
I am a p2p filesharer.
I am a gamer.

BT's 'Option 3' package offers 'Unlimited*' downloading. This is very important for someone of my capacity.
Since I joined BT, 7 months ago, I have had the worst connection speeds, connection drops and Strict NAT on Xbox Live.

Yesterday I decided enough was enough.

Here are some of the highlights.

Firstly, don't bother with finding your BT account number or telephone number (if you're like me and don't use it so can never remember), just rummage around for 2mins and they'll just ask your name!

Here are some of the highlights of the first conversation...

BT: 'What operating system are you using?'
Me: 'A Mac using OSX 10.4 Leopard'
BT: 'So thats wireless yeah?'
Me: '....yes'

BT: *long pause*
Me: What does it say on your troubleshoot sheet?
BT: 'It says...*long pause*'
BT: 'Ok, we are going to test you line'
Me: 'Ooookay'
BT: 'Are you off the phone?'
Me: 'No I'm talking to you...'
BT: 'Ok are you off the Broadband?'
Me: 'The browsers open'
BT: 'OK close that, it will stop the internet from coming through'

Me: 'Why are you testing my line when we know it's because you are throttling it?'
BT: 'Because...*rustle of paper and mumbling*....'

Me: 'How long until you call me back'
BT: *reads out my phone number*
Me: 'Yes I know that's my number. How long until you call me back?'
BT: 'We are going to test the line'
Me: 'Yes but how long....until you call me back?'
BT: 'About 15-20mins then immediately...'

She did call me back in 15-20mins...then immediately!
Also on my landline which she said she wasn't going to call....

Here are some highlights from our second conversation...

Me: 'Ben Cordell speaking'
BT: 'Hello is this Ben?'
Me: 'Mmmmyes'

BT: 'The line test is complete and you have exceeded your download useage'
Me: 'But I'm paying for unlimited download...because I know I use it a lot'
BT: 'Yes but it is exceeded'
Me: 'How can you exceed unlimited?'
BT: *Rustle of paper*

BT: 'I am going to transfer you through to a specialist team'
Me: 'Ok...'
BT: 'Please hold...'
English BT Man: 'Hello Mr Cudell?' (yes...Cudell...)
Me: 'Speaking'
English BT Man: 'I believe you are having some trouble with your internet speeds'
Me: 'I am'
English BT Man: 'Ok what we're....*CLICK*


After 5 minutes, I decide to call them back.

After speaking to a much more well spoken (and apologetic) Middle Eastern man who asked me the SAME BLOODY QUESTIONS, I eventually got transferred back to the 'Fair Useage' team (the English BT Man)


*Middle Eastern BT man tries to explain that I've exceeded my download useage. Again, I lay down the philosophical line 'How can you exceed unlimited?'*


*More debate over how offering a restricted speed when I have gone over my 'unlimited download useage' occurs with me stating that I am not paying for a restricted 'unlimited' service*

Me: '...how can I exceed the unlimited? Restriction of any sort is not unlimited'
BT Man: 'Sorry I'm just a man with a sheet. I will transfer you to *mumblemumble*"



*Transferred through to nice British man who reads me lots about the 'Fair Use' policy (they get complainst about this so much they dedicated a frigging department to it!) and basicaly says that although it says unlimited, policy permits that they restrict the speed of anyone who exceeeds their fair useage.

Also explains that the restriction is why I get strict NAT on Live.

Says that they have lifted the 30 day restriction so I should get decent speeds.

I ask where I can cancel my account...*

1hr20mins....4 operators....5 phone calls....BT....you fucking suck!

Hello and welcome.

Hello and welcome to 'My Ordinary Life'.

This is my blog. There are many others like it, but this one is mine. My blog is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my blog is useless. Without my blog, I am useless. I must write my blog true. I must write better than my fellow bloggers, who are trying to pwn me. I must blog them before they blog me. I will. Before God I blog this creed: my blog and myself are defenders of the internet, we are the masters of our fellow bloggers, we are the saviors of my life. So be it, until there is no enemy, but peace. Amen.