An Idiot’s Adventures In Gameland – Steve McNeil

#6: 8-Bitty

Hello dear reader. For those new to this column, the Titular Idiot is me, and the Adventures are whatever I’ve been up to this week. This week’s been an unusually bitty one, so the column is too I’m afraid. But hopefully it won’t be dreadful. Let’s see…

First up, a shameless plug, as one of the things I’ve been preparing for this week is the next live performance of mine and “Fleshy Tech God” Rob Sedgebeer’s live videogaming/comedy show, WiFi Wars – if you know anyone in Bristol who likes fun, please send them along this Saturday. 

The various elements are coming together nicely now (there’s a lot of new stuff too if you’ve not seen it for a while) and this is our penultimate chance to test out our toys on amenable guinea pigs before the big show at the Royal Institution in Mayfair on 21st July.  Shameless Plug Number Two: If you’re in London, please come to that – it’s possibly the best thing we’ll ever get to do (Click Here for info and tickets).

Another thing that’s taken up my time in the last few days has been reviewing the new Nintendo game, Yoshi’s Woolly World. It seems to be getting a positive, if slightly lukewarm, response elsewhere but if you’re a Nintendo fan (as I am) I reckon you’ll love it. You just have to play it properly.

If I could compare Yoshi’s Woolly World to one other game, it would be, without a shadow of a doubt, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. Which sounds mental, but hear me out. Yoshi’s Woolly World is a game where you can quite easily bash through each level in a couple of minutes, and it’ll be over before you know it. But that’s not how you’re meant to play it. It’s a beautiful game, with many hidden secrets, and you need to explore every corner to fully appreciate it. You get out of this game what you put in, and many of the criticisms being levelled at it seem to ignore this fact, as was the case upon the release of Ground Zeroes.  (I think you just about got away with that comparison, but you’re pushing it – Ed.)

Anyway, moving on. The big project this week was on Tuesday night, when I co-hosted a pilot episode of a new show for Ginx TV, “Player’s Lounge”. The idea of the show is to broadcast our initial reactions to a videogame on the day of launch – Tuesday was the global release of the much anticipated third chapter of Rocksteady’s Batman ‘Arkham’ trilogy, ‘Arkham Knight’, so that was what we played, natch.  Chris Slight, my co-host, described the show as a sort of ‘review-in-progress’ which is a pretty accurate description, given we were discussing our first thoughts as we explored the game for the first time.

Pilots aren’t always made for broadcast, but this one was. In fact, it was broadcast live, which was incredibly exciting. The wonderful thing about this was that, given Ginx frequently simulcast their live shows on as well as on their TV channel, during the TV broadcast’s advert breaks we were able to continue the discussion with our online viewers.

As a result, we were actually able to refine the pilot during its broadcast. We could ask our viewers how they felt about the pace and tone of the conversation, or whether they’d prefer us not to talk over lengthy cutscenes, and then, when we went back on air, we could try out the revised approach, live! This meant that, by the end of the two hours, we’d not only shot the pilot, we’d broadcasted it, made refinements to the format and, most importantly, gained further focus group feedback from our target audience, for consideration when making future episodes. If only all television were so simple! I say simple; the whole thing would have been impossible were it not for the incredible team behind the scenes making the whole thing possible – huge thanks to Dan, James and Haplo.

Next week, I’m off on holiday, so there’ll be no article from me. I toyed with the idea of writing a second one this week to fill the gap, but I’d always intended this column to reflect what I was doing at the time. No-one needs to read something from me next week about how I drank a bottle of Cava for breakfast, knocked the barbecue into the river and watched all the sausages float away, and then passed out in a coma playing Trivial Pursuit with my in-laws. I mean, arguably no-one needs to read this week’s article either, but at least it’s on-topic.

See you in two weeks!

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