Posts Tagged ‘PS3’

It’s that time again folks – with E3 well and truly behind us and most of the post-E3 preview tours out of the way, PR’s are now looking to the next ‘big’ event on the calendar, the Cologne Games Convention. I say ‘big’ – Cologne has always had issues because it’s rather too close to E3 for a lot of company’s liking, although being in Europe, being more PC-friendly and being largely consumer-based (as opposed to E3’s purely Press & Corporate), it has some leeway. That hasn’t stopped companies like Microsoft, Sega, etc… From pulling out though. Still, it’s technically the world’s largest gaming event, which counts for something.

This year will be my fifth year at GamesCom, and my first as a freelancer… although I won’t be able to do that much freelancing per say – this year is also the first year that I couldn’t quite afford to pay my way up front (Times being tough, plus I’ve had to shell out a lot for the flat move…). Thankfully, Strategy Informer (the people who I’ve always gone anyway), agreed to pay my way up front this year (instead of me claiming it back after the fact). I always enjoy GamesCom… great atmosphere, great times, great people… I still want to go to E3 at least once to say that I have, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up liking GamesCom more overall.

I’m also not as in charge of my own schedule this year as I have been in the past, so I imparted some words of wisdom onto my boss to help make sure he doesn’t make my life hell, and it inspired me to write up a post on the subject. Here are some of the rules and tricks I’ve pick up though for planning a GamesCom:

Hotels

It doesn’t matter which side of the River you are on. No matter which side you choose, you’ll have to trek somewhere. Last year I was on the Messe side of the river, in a little urban/parade area directly south of the convention centre. A lot of out of the way and cheap hotels (although with little frills), and you’re no more than a five minute walk away from the convention hall. It was then a quick tram ride into the centre of town…This year, I’m on the other side of the river, just up the road from the Central station – it’ll mean a slightly longer trip (15 minutes top I should think) to get to and from the Messe, but I’ll be right in the heart of the town. Swings and Roundabouts really… most of the press and other industry folk tend to go to the same places anyway, so you’ll rarely have far to go. There’s this Irish Bar that I’ve always missed out on going too.

– Try to be near a metro/tram station. The reason for this is two-fold: Firstly, it gives you a greater degree of flexibility as to how far out your Hotel can be before it becomes unworkable (happened to me a couple of years ago, was a good 20-25 minute TRAM ride away… didn’t got out much, as you can imagine, although I did get a lot of work done…), and also because Cologne-Bonn airport as a good rail link into Cologne central station (and the convention centre, if you wanted to go straight there) and from there you can access most of the major tram lines around the town. The tram/metro service is pretty decent in Cologne, and as much as I feel guilty for advising this, it can be quite easy to get a cheeky free ride on the tram – conductors are rare.

WiFi is Golden. Check your Hotel’s policy on Wi-Fi and wired Ethernet… the convention centre’s wireless infrastructure has always been a little sketchy, and while some publishers set up their own internal networks at the booths, those can also be a little dodgy and sometimes they don’t allow press access. That leaves your Hotel as your last viable line of communication with the outside world. You’re unlikely to get free wifi (although I did last year, it was epic), so check prices. If they offer wired Ethernet for free, make sure you bring a cable. I keep forgetting …

Breakfast is also Golden. Apart from maybe the first day, all the other days you’re going to wake up exhausted and/or hung-over. Therefore, Breakfast really does become the most important meal of the day, as you’re unlikely to get another decent meal until dinner (see ‘Give yourself a break’ below). It may bump the price up, but splashing out to have breakfast included will be the best investment you’ve ever made… depending on your location, you’re unlikely to be able to grab a bite to eat anywhere else, and certainly not when you get to the Messe (see ‘Avoid 9am bookings’ below).

Appointments

Avoid 9am bookings. The Messe has a strict policy of only letting staff and ‘Trade’ Visitors in before 9am. Everyone else, including ‘Press’, have to wait until they doors officially open at 9am each day. Even waiting at the South entrance – the one nearest the two business areas, you’ve still got a 5 – 10 minute walk as you get there, get to the right hall/floor, and THEN have to find the right booth. I aim for a 9:30 start, which allows me plenty of time to get in there and just take in the surroundings, as well as find out where everyone is.

Avoid any appointments in the consumer areas where possible if they are Thursday onwards. GamesCom has been growing in size and prestige every year… my first GamesCom was the last year it was in the East German town of Leipzig (convention centre was pretty swish, town was very soviet and rundown). Since it moved to Cologne, the number of attendees has just kept growing. 2011’s attendee figure was at 275,000… that’s a lot of eager, sweaty Germans trying to cram into one place. They even had to bar entry on the Saturday because there were just too many people trying to get in.

Trust me when I say you DO NOT want to be dealing with that. Now, most of the ‘big boys’ will have booths in the Business centre, which is never that crowded. Sadly, some of the smaller (yet just as cool guys), will only be able to afford to be in one place, and they will want to be in the consumer halls to get their message across to more people. This means that some consumer hall appointments will be unavoidable – do yourself a favour and limit those to Wednesday as much as possible… Wednesday is the press day, so the halls won’t be as crowded.

Give yourself a break. This is a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many times in the past I’ve ended up with wall to wall appoints, 9-6/7. Granted, the Business area booths are usually nicely decked out, so you can take ‘mini-break’s and feed yourself via a drip-feed of snacks and caffeine at the various booths. Still, try and give yourself at least one hour in the day to just sit somewhere – feel free to work, I mean you’ve probably already seen, like, five games that day, might as well start writing some of them up – but make sure you’re sitting down, fairly relaxed with a drink or something to eat. I wouldn’t try going to one of the Messe’s restaurants – they’re not that big and are usually fairly busy (not to mention pricey), although you could try hitting the food stands on Wednesday – more variety and you’ll actually be able to get at them.
Expect to leave the Messe, and try to plan for it. Some companies now, instead of booking a booth in the Messe itself (whether Business or Consumer), will hire out some Hotel suites near the convention centre. Sony did it last year, Paradox Interactive are doing it this year… whilst these venues are no more than five minute walks away, you’ve still got to get there, get back, and then find your next place. The Messe is quite large – coming back to Sony’s example last year, it was on the other side of the roundabout from the Messe’s North entrance, but the Business centres are all the way in the South side… that’s a good 5-10 minute walk right there. Planning stuff like this is hard, especially because companies do things differently, which leads too…

Expect to reschedule. A lot. It’s easy to get some appointment booking done early – some companies are pretty good like that. Other aren’t though, and as you get closer to GamesCom and the gaps start filling in, Someone you really want to see will only have times available where you’re already booked, so you’ll have to shift, compromise and find work around whenever possible.

Cold Calling generally doesn’t work. There can be many situations that leave you without an appointment for someone you’d really like to see – they didn’t have times that matched your schedule, you’ve lost touch with your local PR’s, you don’t know who your local PR is anymore, they don’t like you… That basically means you have to rock up to the booth and try and wrangle an appointment. Generally, I don’t think it works (feel free to correct me, everyone). PR’s and even the people hired to man ‘reception’ are pretty on the ball when it comes to stuff like this.

If you’re going to attempt it, at least make sure you know who your local PR is and ask for them directly. It would help if you’ve had some contact with them in the past, and generally just try and be humble about it. Or accept that it’s just not happening and take the opportunity to get some actual work done. Which leads to the Golden rule…

DO WORK WHEREVER POSSIBLE. GamesCom mans a lot of appoints spread over 3-4 days, that’s a lot of games, and mostly all of them will need writing  up in some form or another (that’s not to mention news, mini-featurettes etc…) Get a head start as soon as possible, as it WILL pile up and you’ll be spending the week after GamesCom grinding them out one after another.

I know you want to go out and party, but make sure you leave yourself sometime after a day’s work, not only to just chill for a bit, but to do some work. IF you’re like me and you’re on your own, it’s especially important. Actually, that should be the Golden Rule… Bring a team… I’ve been soloing GamesCom every year for four years, and trust me when I say it’s tough… I was hoping to have an extra with me this year but that’s not happening.

There’s more I could say, but I don’t want this to get too jumbled or long-winded… only other thing I’d mention is don’t bother with the official GamesCom party – it’s like £40 a ticket and most of the press/PR will go out to Cologne town centre anyway. Other publishers throw their own mini-parties as well, and those are usually free-entry too. If anyone wants to submit their own GamesCom (pro)tips, then feel free. Look forward to seeing you all there!

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So when I was at a business booth today, I got given a massive tank. Alright? That happened. In my defence this was the first time meeting this particular team in person, and I didn’t want to see rude. Could this be construed as a bribe? Sure. That’s on me. I think we can work past this though – you just need to tell me how much tank is too much.

Seriously though… as kind of cool as getting swag is, you usually form a line in your head as to what’s acceptable. My line just got bowled over by the tank. I’m very easily swept up in the moment, I think. The PR guy – lovely man named Arthur – gave me the usual, more normal swag – T-shirt, asset disk, booklet etc… and then came back with a giant tank. Like I berk, I just sat there and went “yeah, ok then?”. I’ve no idea how I’m going to get it home.

I’m sure some of my colleagues are tutting at this already – but they have a point. T-shirts, posters… small stuff any reasonable journo can take with out feeling guilty, but this? I mean… it’s remote controlled! As pretentious as it sounds, I’m sure an ethics board would raise an eyebrow at this. I’m probably going to have to give it away as a prize… which presents the added problem (in addition to getting it home), of shipping it back out to whoever wins it. We’ve lost many a prize somewhere in Europe, including a limited edition Xbox.

Oh yeah, I’m in Cologne by the way. Hi. Most of my twitter friends will know this already, as they’re here for the same reason I am – the GamesCom Videogames Convention. Think of it like E3, just with more Germans. And PC actually has a presence. The show is gaining reputation year-by-year, and is even getting announcements now. You don’t always get new code – seeing as it’s barely two months after E3, but it’s respected now I think, at least on the PC side. PC gaming still doesn’t really have a presence at E3.

This is my fourth year in a row covering the convention. My first year, 2008, was the last year the show was in Leipzig in east Germany and I’d barely been doing this kind of thing for three, four months. Man, that seems like a long time ago… I even had a girlfriend back then. I’ve been covering the show by myself each year, but I think I’ll stop that now – going to get a plan together to take someone with me. Hopefully it’ll lighten the load and mean we can see more people.

Going to sign off for now, but I’ll post more about this over the weekend now that I can relax.

Epic Lie-In Time.

 

So, I finally set up my PS3 and had a bit of a marathon over the weekend. I’m not as prone to console marathons as I am PC ones, simply because I’m well and truly hooked on the internet and all it can provide. I really need a set up where my console and PC are in the same room. It’s why I don’t often go on holiday as well, and even if I do, never for that long, because the Internet does make me feel more connected.

Kind of sad, I suppose, and slightly introverted, but it is who I am – growing up I was bullied and didn’t have that many friends at school, and not really being the kind of kid who would just go and wonder the streets, I stuck to my room and sought new companions digitally. I had a bad first year at university as well, in the sense that I felt trapped in my own room, so again I found solace through my internet connection.

I’ve matured now though, and I’m way more comfortable with myself then I ever was, even a year or two ago. Things were getting better during collage, but that bad experience at Uni kind of set me back again. Still, that comforting feel I get from being on the internet, whether it’s talking to people on MSN, or keeping up with news and information, or even just browsing my regular forums and sites – it’s never gone away Even now, I work in a ‘cloud’ company, with the CEO in Croatia and the Managing Editor/Editor-in-Chief/Whatever-he-wants-to-call-himself over in Devon. None of us have met in person, and so my sense of duty to work has no also been thrown into the mix. If it wasn’t for the fact that I go to a lot of events, I wouldn’t have much human contact at all at the moment. (I currently live in a village in the middle of nowhere, and it’s hard to keep contact with my friends from my hometown).

Anyway, I digress… I’ve got my laptop anyway, which I can set up if I really need to keep an eye on things. That’s dying too though mind. But yeah… PS3. I’m not regretting the purchase, although I’m not over the moon about the console yet either. So far I’ve bought MAG and Valkyria Chronicles, and I’m borrowing Demon Souls from a friend. The console itself is pretty nifty, quite easy to use and navigate, although I haven’t properly explored all of the multi-media functions yet. I’ve also noticed it’s not really geared towards ‘friends’ so much. Like I rarely noticed if anyone’s actually come online that I’ve added, and the lack of a party-chat feature (Although rumour has it one is inbound), means that it’s definitely the more lonely console.

MAG – As I hoped, this wasn’t as bad as everyone kept telling me. “It’s shit” they would often say… in fact only one person I’ve encountered so far had anything good to say about the game, but he was a GAME employee (although, another GAME employee also said it was rubbish). I can see why people might not think it’s good, but to say it’s terrible is a bit too far. It’s main problem is one it can’t really escape, which is the fact that it keeps getting compared to Call of Duty and Battlefield.

It’s definitely not like COD, although at first glance it can ‘appear’ to be, which is probably why the COD crowd were disappointed. Also, sadly, Battlefield does a lot of the things that MAG does better, but only because it’s on a much smaller and tighter scale. Gameplay reminds me a bit of Section 8 in a way, just without the power armour. This is also definitely a clan-based game. Playing by oneself in a game that’s very orientated towards the team dynamic (Which I really like) does damper the enjoyment. I’m going to need to actively try and work my way into the community on this one I think.

Valkyria Chronicles – This is proving to be just as good as everyone said it would be. I’m really enjoying it, and again it’s such a shame that both the sequels are on the PSP. I may have let the first game influence my decision to pick up a PS3, but I really don’t want to have to pick up the handled just so I can play the second two. With any luck, they’ll release them as some kind of downloadable game over the PSN so that I can still play them and not have to worry about owning a PSP. The only thing I will say against VC is that the start/stop nature of the story progression is a bit annoying. But other than that – excellent.

And that’s what I did this weekend. Some Chinese food and some beer featured as well, but not much else. I’m kind of looking forward to getting into Demon Souls, as I hear it’s just ridiculously hard. Fun times.

Expansion

Posted: November 6, 2010 in Gaming, Other
Tags: , ,

So, I’m now the proud owner of a 160 GB Playstation 3. I’d always meant to get one – just haven’t really been able to afford it. Not only does it double up as a blue-ray player, but it’s also undoubtedly the most powerful console on a technical level, and despite the lack of decent exclusives, both third party or otherwise at the moment, there are still several PS3-only games that I want to play. Haven’t actually got any games for it yet.

A bit annoying though, on closer inspection I realised that it didn’t come with an HDMI cable… which for the state of the art HD multi-media console is a bit silly, really. Still, I’ll need to go pick up some games for it anyway, so I can pick up a cable whilst I’m there. I think I’ll also go get myself a headset, even though *apparently* they’re not as widely used as they are on Xbox Live. Thanks again goes to mother-dear, who agreed to pay for the console as my early Christmas present – more money for me to get the games, accessories etc… but also a second monitor and a netbook, which are two things I could do with for the business side of things. I feel a little bit bad though, as I can see me not playing the PS3 as much as my PC or Xbox, so I don’t want her to think she’s wasted her money or anything.

Out of my close group of friends, I only know one person who games online with a PS3. It will be good to start gaming with him and a couple of friends of his I know, as I’ve never done it before – he doesn’t own an Xbox or anything and doesn’t PC game either. Outside of that, a few colleagues of mine own PS3’s as well, so I can game with them, but I suspect my friends list is going to be small. Still, I have to find games that they own that I don’t already have elsewhere – I refuse to duplicate, unless I can get one free, but I wouldn’t ask for that.

Some games I am thinking of getting though are:

  • Medal of Honor: I didn’t get this for review, and my friend has it so I might as well get it on the PS3.
  • Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood: Again, we’re probably going to assign it to someone else, and I know my friend is getting it so I can play online with him there… but then again, most of my XBL friends will get it too… might have to think more about this one.
  • Valkyria Chronicles: I’m not a huge huge fan of RPG’s outside of the Final Fantasy series, but this game has always intrigued me, and been on my ‘must-play’ list for a while. Shame the sequels are on the PSP.
  • MAG: Now, every time I say this to people they tell me not to get it because it’s apparently rubbish. Call me stubborn, but I want to see for myself as the concept had always intrigued me. What with the DLC that’s out for it now and the fact that those who are still playing it are the ones you actually want to play with, I think it’ll be better than people let on.
  • Uncharted 1 & 2: Naughty Dog’s action/adventure series has been highly praised by both the press and personal friends, so I wouldn’t mind checking these out.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Not 100% sure I’ll buy this… I may just try and borrow it, but I get the feeling this is one I should really play. Shame the PS3 I’ve got isn’t backwards compatible, as I should really play MGS 3 as well. Played (and completed) one and two though, so that’s something.
  • Flower: I’ve been fascinated by this PSN title ever since it came out, so this will definitely be one to get.

Not sure what else I’ll get… maybe some old-school PS2 or PS One games if they’re available, all things considered. I could start getting blue-rays now as well if I wanted. We’ll have to wait and see. I’m happy with my purchase though all the same, and I have a feeling that, with plenty of years left in its cycle, the Playstation 3 may yet surprise us all.

Until next time.