F*cking product placement… How does that work?

November 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

Not like this. (Note: last time I use this meme. Promise.)

Seriously, I could probably do a whole blog on poor product placement.

Offenders: Microsoft and How I Met Your Mother.

CrunchGear very much hits the nail on the head here. But, in essence:

No.

No...

NO.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooo.

For shame, Microsoft, and the producers of HIMYM, for even believing for one second that this would fly.

If this is how far down the show has sunk, I think I’m pretty much done with it. I mean, jeez, even I, Robot wasn’t this bad (though it was also terrible):

Product placement isn’t evil, but as soon as it becomes obvious, it has failed. As soon as people get wind of it, they turn against the product. When done badly, it’s incredibly lame.

Is that really the response you want the consumer to associate with your brand?

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Site Update – 04/01/10

January 4, 2010 § Leave a comment

First off, I should start with an apology. For quite a few weeks the blog has gone neglected, largely due to work and social commitments. Really, what it comes down to is not making promises you can’t keep. And in that vein, I won’t say it won’t happen again or that things will change in the coming year.

In truth, the only reason I’m writing here now is because this is my week off, and, goddamnit, if I don’t write at least something I may as well call the whole thing quits. With that in mind, let’s move on.

This week I’m aiming to give Unity a proper go. Unity is a “game development tool”, recently released for free on “teh Internets”, and I hear it’s fairly well-regarded and respected by the community. I’ve been interested in games design for a while now, but I’ve never really thought about it seriously as a career. Maybe after this week I’ll have a better idea of whether it’s worth going for or not – or, more importantly, whether I’ll be any good at it.

The rest of the time I’m going to be attempting to catch up on all the TV I missed last year, as well as several games I’ve started but never got around to finishing. With all the Holiday deals that happened during the period, with some still appearing, I’ve got so many games to play and so little time to play them. The same old story. I’ve actually divided up the games I’ve got to play across the week, starting off with GTA: The Lost and Damned today. Kind of sad, I know, but it’s the only way I’ll be able to play everything. Really, I feel sorry for the game reviewers, who, I imagine, never have the time to stop and go back to games they liked.

On second thoughts, they also get paid to play games for a living. And then write about them. Lucky gits.

In the meantime I seem to be posting more and more on Twitter. You should be able to see it somewhere on the right-hand side of this page. You’ll have to ignore the faux-prophetic drunken ramblings that appear from time to time, but there’s bound to be something of worth in there, somewhere.

Kind of worries me, though, that we’re now condensing written communication into tiny 140 words or less paragraphs. Maybe, someday, we’ll end up using a system of logograms, much like in the Chinese or Egyptian written languages. Hey, it could happen!

Site Update – 17/10/09

October 17, 2009 § Leave a comment

Got a cold, so I won’t be up to much this weekend. I will probably be attempting to finish off Halo Wars while starting Red Faction: Guerrilla on the 360. I’ll also be going back to Empire: Total War, since I’m kind of curious to see what all the updates inbetween have done to the game. I’ll also be watching The Lookout, which supposedly showcases rising-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s talents as a Proper Serious Actor in Hollywood. (I kid. If anything, Brick did that for him in 2005.)

I’m just going to say a quick few things about Halo Wars. I rented the game to see how well Ensemble succeeded in making a traditional RTS game for a console. The answer is that it’s pretty functional and, in the majority of times, works fairly well. However, when you need swift, nimble movement, when you need to select troops on an individual basis quickly and efficiently, the game can’t accomodate that. If only they’d hid this flaw better, but they actually created a level where you do have to be able to do this, and when the pathfinding fails and you aren’t able to react in time – through no fault of your own, but the controls – it’s a bit of downer.

Halo Wars is fun, and the presentation is really excellent, and Ensemble should be commended for their strong efforts, but this isn’t the game to revolutionise RTSs on a console.

Oh, and Peep Show was excellent last night. Best yet for the series.

Television Recommendations – 11/10/09

October 11, 2009 § Leave a comment

From Mid-September, US viewers have been treated to several new seasons of award-winning television. Americans are knee deep in high quality drama, with House, Mad Men and Heroes back on screens, while Curb Your Enthusiasm and How I Met Your Mother are filling out the comedy space. Meanwhile, in the UK, we have Peep Show and… well, that’s about all I can think of at the moment.

It’s interesting to note that all of the series I’ve mentioned that are now playing in America are, at the very least, on their third or fourth run. Whereas in the UK we tend to stick to six or twelve episode series with a general shelf-life of two to three series max, the US generally favours eighteen to twenty-four episode seasons, with a show going on until it’s milked bone dry by the networks. This all leads to my point of “season fatigue”, something US shows often fall foul of while UK shows avoid – and the subject of today’s sermon.

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06/10/09 – Site Update

October 6, 2009 § Leave a comment

TV, TV and more TV!

The last month has seen the release of new seasons for a lot of great American television shows, and I aim to give some of my thoughts as to what’s out there – what’s hot and what’s not [steady now, beginning to sound like the E! network – Ed.] – this weekend.

Hopefully I’ll also have watched Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), so I’ll be able to share some thoughts on that, too. Once again, Woody Allen makes a film, casts some beautiful young women and, this time, writes in a scene where they indulge in some lesbian schexy-ness (or so I am informed). Woody Allen: pervert? Genius? Creepy genius? Creepy asshole genius? Probably all of the above and then some more. I can hardly say it matters all that much, though – just as long as he makes a good film and doesn’t waste my time with too much dribble-y, neurotic, ramble-y whining. (God knows, he’s made plenty of the films riding the coattails of that schtick.)

I’ve also decided to a new feature to the blog called Off the Cuff, which has already featured in a form some might better know as Impressions. The only difference here is that Off the Cuff is worded worse, probably contains more typos and grammatical errors, and is very, very probably likely to express views I will later renounce in a court of law, in front of a man wearing a paper mache mask with an eagle’s head painted on, while standing there semi-nude.

Goo goo ga-joob indeed, and I hope everyone has peaceful, playful week.

Be better than free, proclaims David Perry — legendary game developer, prolific bullshitter

May 12, 2009 § Leave a comment

This was picked up by a handful of sites I regularly visit, including Edge and Joystiq. It’s basically a redirect to a blog post made by Perry, which outlines some of his impressions over the fairly recent Pirate Bay judgment. He says some other stuff, but this is what sticks out, to me:

The REAL way to beat piracy is to focus on “convenience”, “quality”, “access”. I once heard a speech about the “right price” for music. That’s a price where you’d rather pay for the quality, proper meta-tags, “The Real Thing” etc. That’s nearly what iTunes offers, but it’s too expensive (as the speaker said after his analysis), and so the first company to actually work out that “not worth piracy” price, will suddenly make piracy “inconvenient”. You don’t have to agree, but it’s an interesting idea.

Like David Jaffe – another ‘Dave’ – David Perry is not afraid of saying whatever comes into his head at any given time, often making him look a bit of a jackass. The amount of rubbish this guy comes out with… You really just can’t take much of what he says seriously anymore. It’s why I was so surprised when I read this, as it is probably single-most important thing I’ve heard regarding the problem of piracy and how it should be dealt.

Now, there will always be some people who will try and get stuff for free, no matter what. However, there is another element to piracy, and that is that it frequently it offers the consumer a service which doesn’t exist under legal means. Mark Kermode talks about this in his film vblog, and the same applies with video games. But I can think of another example, specific to video games. There is a lot of talk about piracy on the PSP — the use of emulators to play ROMs of old 16-bit classics, PlayStation games etc. Instead of companies asking the question “What can we do to stop this?” maybe they should be asking themselves “How do we get in on this?” instead? There is obviously a demand for these games and it is because companies have failed to fill this gap that pirates have swooped in. Frequently, it’s not a case of people wanting to screw record companies, or games developers or publishers, but to have a product, have it NOW and in this or that format. It’s the companies’ failure for not providing this service, and if they were smart they would realise how much money is there and step up a bit.

And Perry’s comment about this kind of future-offering not being too expensive is also, absolutely, on-the-money. For example, if we look at what Sega’s served up with the release of some classic Mega Drive games on XBLA, we have Sonic 1 and 2, and Streets of Rage 2, all being offered individually for 400 MSP or £3.40. Consider that you can buy a retail packaged version of all of those games, plus 37 more, on the Xbox 360 for around £20 (making it around 50p per game), individually pricing games as high as £3.40 is absurd. Gunstar Heroes is coming out soon on XBLA, and I love that game to death, but I’m not going to pay that amount of money for it.

But this theory doesn’t just apply to film and video games; it applies to television, too. Why do people download their favourite television series instead of waiting for the box-set to come out or paying for an expensive Sky package? The answer’s in the question. Some people don’t want 100 channels of crap. They just want that TV show, they want it now and they want it cheap. While there are some people are will watch a TV show over again after a first viewing, I, myself, find that after having seen an episode of Lost or House, rarely have the inclination to revisit it. Why isn’t there a online digital rental service for the most popular TV shows, one which allows you to suscribe to a season or rent out individual episodes for a cheaper cost than buying them?

Currently, iTunes offers a full episode of The Wire for purchase at £1.89; why not offer a cheaper service which gives people access to the latest episode of their favourite TV show for the price of something around 99p, but with the caveat of only being able to watch it once or within a time limit before the episode can no longer be viewed? If such a service exists, I don’t know of it. And either that means that a) such a service doesn’t exist; or b) they haven’t marketed it well enough. Both are the problem of an industry and of businesses which, time-and-again, fail to keep up with the demands of the consumer.

So, I suppose this is my final message: stop punishing the consumer for your company’s failure to fill a gap in the market; stop your whining, and start doing something about it!

(823 words.)

'Heroes: Season 3' Impressions

April 17, 2009 § Leave a comment

When Heroes began its third run late last year I was quite ready to give up hope. While it never plummeted to the depths of season two’s sheer awfulness — a season of television so bad that Tim Kring felt he had to apologise for it — it never really captured my attention, either. For a while it looked like Heroes was on the ropes and nearly out of the ring, as it trudged on to its inevitable doom: cancellation.

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