I’m a big fan of the board games there have been on XBLA thus far, and no matter what the subject, they seem to work well as online games. So I’m rather interested to see if this holds true for this railway based game:Gamerscore Blog : Ticket to Ride Headed to XBLA
Later today we get the Fall update to Xbox 360 Live. It doesn’t look like there is anything dramatic coming, but they are starting to introduce more of a social networking element, with profiles and searchable friend lists. There is also the Xbox Originals, old xbox games for download, and also a platinum service for Xbox Live Arcade games, which means we’ll get a bit of discounting going on, which is no bad thing.
I’m also troubled by the new tv commercial for Safestyle UK, the noisiest of all the double-glazing companies advertising today. They seem to have come up with their own version of Firestarter by the Prodigy for it, and it may well be the most annoying of all the Christmas commercials, even more so than the Spice Girls ad for Tesco.
Last night ended up as a Larry Sanders marathon. I’ve been taping them on my Sky+ box, and decided to watch a couple, and just couldn’t stop. Brilliant stuff, some of the best comedy writing there is. It got me wondering why there aren’t more shows on this level. I got to thinking about Garry Shandling’s take on Extras (when he was interviewed by Ricky Gervais, he suggested that the way in which Gervais handled race and disability was pretty lazy and obvious, and that there are more sophisticated ways to handle such topics). I feel that Shandling has a right to be smug in Gervais’ direction, as in Larry Sanders he wrote a far superior office comedy to The Office. It’s meant to be about a talk show, but most of it is based around the office relationships, universal stuff. You’ve got his producer, Artie, who is one of the most incredible characters in all of sitcom, evil and thorougly likeable all at once. In face, most of the characters shift positions, are good and bad in many different ways. Larry can be funny and superior, or weak and needy, sometimes from scene to scene. The one constant is that Hank will always lose, no matter what happens.
I think it’s that depth that is key, you get an overall sketch of what a character will behave like, but you can’t always depend on that, sometimes they let you down, or act beyond themselves, but without being someone that doesn’t fit within that overall sketch. Perhaps the problem with a lot of sitcoms is that the overall sketch is all you ever see of all bar one or two characters, they have to sit within that all the time, and it is a rare moment they will change. That could also be down to the difference between English and American sitcoms, in that the latter have a lot more episodes to play with.
I guess I’m trying to think of a situation or location where I could mimic that depth more fully, not copy it, but somewhere where characters could have room to grow.
I’ve just been reading over at TV Squad that Christopher Guest is going to direct an American version of The Thick of it, one of my favourite comedy shows of recent years. I’m sure, knowing Guest, it will be pretty good, but why not set him off doing a political comedy on his own? Stop nicking our ideas! This is a long-standing tradition, but it is picking up speed again at the moment, with The Office in its third season, The IT Crowd in production, and probably versions of everything from the past twenty years from Father Ted USA down to My Hero being pitched to US studios. We’ve got precious enough good ideas of our own. What I don’t understand it why the American TV companies can’t possibly risk showing the original version. Well I do, but I know deep down that America loves good comedy, and don’t need it focus-grouped into blandness. Just like we wouldn’t have got ever nuance of Tanner 88, but many of us loved it, in it’s natural state The Thick of It is stunning comedy, and would be much loved given a chance. Don’t get me wrong, I liked The Office USA for instance (in no small part due to Steve Carrell), but again, he could have made any role of that nature his own. Let’s keep our own ideas separate, and enjoy twice the creativity.
This, I simply have to have. I’ve heard great things about the PS2 version, and a few months back spent ten minutes in a shop just watching someone playing it. Just looks damn good fun.
I am now the proud owner of an Xbox 360. And a happy owner too. I wanted to get it to play Project Gotham Racing 3 (PGR3), which is a wonderful racing game that has evolved over time from a quirky game called Metropolitan Street Racer on the Dreamcast. I loved that then, have played PGR2 on the Xbox, loved that, and this is a great version of it. Keeping me very busy.
I’m also going to try and use it as a media centre, as it claims it can be used for that. Have got all the necessary bits almost in place, so shall try that out tonight hopefully. I’ll try and write a more detailed post about the 360 soon, but so far it really has been a joy to use. If I don’t know you have on, and you want to play against me online, just say so in the comments and I will get in touch.
So Bill Gates is giving his keynotes speech at CES 2006, and finishes up with the X360. Talks about sales for a bit, then demos a new game, Fight Night Round 3 (okay, when I say demos, I mean he actually plays against Steve Ballmer on stage). Fair enough. However, when they have finished, he casually mentions that Xbox 360 owners can download the demo right this second. Nice. It isn’t a massive technical innovation, it is simply a marketing one, but a beautiful one. I’m hoping we will start to see more of this at conferences like E3, or even in TV adverts for games.
Slowly getting my head into the working new year, starting to figure out what I am up to. Lots of small tasks to be getting on with now, but it is quite good in that they are all new things, rather than things that have hung around from last year.