Christopher 09/10/14

Today has been study day. I am currently studying towards a BA Hons in Humanities with a specialism in creative writing with the Open University. In the first two modules I did with the OU, I blasted (and coasted with some amount of laxidaisicality) through the creative modules. The current one however, does have some actual academic elements to it: Key Questions in Philosophy. I am going to actually have to do some reading!

So I have spent today in the library doing the first week’s reading, which has included a three-hour long interactive presentation entitled ‘What it Art?’ The first part of the module is concerned with truth in fiction, the paradox of painful art and the paradox of fictional emotion. Before I get to all that though, I have to try and define what art it, is in philosophical sense. Here is one attempt I made before doing any of the reading:

Art is the product of a person’s imagination, that has been crafted with skill, passion and often frustration. It is a tangible outlet for that person’s message on a particular topic – religion, war, the state of existence itself – to be showcased to an audience. A piece of art should be something that serves to deliver that message to its intended audience. It is also something that the audience should receive a message from. That is not to say that if the audience perceives a message that differ from that which was intended, it is a bad piece of art. One piece of art, no matter the medium it takes, can say different things to different people at different times – it is dependant on the present mind-set of the person perceiving the art. It could even say different things to the SAME person at different times (I personally have read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy 9 times and have taken different things away from it each time.) So a piece of art should be something that attempts to convey a particular message to its audience.

This is something that most of us have probably asked at some point in our lives, probably when face with something like Damien Hirst’s ‘Mother and Child (Divided)’ (The Cow in formaldehyde) or Emin’s ‘My Bed.’ These are pieces of art because someone in the art world has told us they are, though if someone came into my bedroom and looked at my unmade bed, with the cups of tea and Keri’s socks everywhere, that would not be art, despite it being essentially the same thing, because there s no-one from the art world calling it art. So is this what makes art? Someone saying it it so?

If I walked up to an object in the street – a lamp post, say – and declared it art, that it stood out from the rows and rows of identical lamp posts, I would be told that it isn’t. There is a distinct inequality there that would almost exclude me from appreciating art.

We could argue against that person from the art world – let’s called her Gemima – that ‘My Bed’ is not art because we have seen true pieces of art ourselves and it bears no resemblance. My Bed could not hold a candle to the most famous piece of art in the world, the Mona Lisa. But again, in trying to define what art is, there are some criteria that the Mona Lisa may not fall into, depending on who you ask.

There is a man called Berys Gaut who suggests there should be a check-list of criteria that builds towards something being called a work of. These word include (but are not limited to): being the product of skill, being the product of a creative imagination, being beautiful, having an individual message. Now there is no doubt that the Mona Lisa is the product of skill, I’m sure we would all agree, but there may be some that would say she is not very beautiful, or it is not very creative. Does this mean it is not art?

Then we have Shakespeare who, in Hamlet Act 3, Scene 2, saying that art should be a mirror to the world (paraphrase), that art should show what is real. Then Aristotle who says art s a representation not of what is, but what could be. Then Tolstoy who said that art should communicate a message in the most sincere manner at the highest possible level.

None of these ways of looking at what art is can reconcile with each other or even themselves. Each one encounters a problem. Art does not always show what is real – reality shows (if you believe they are in anyway an art form) have shown us that. We cannot trust that the artist is really showing us what could come to pass. Not all art work really communicates at the highest level – I do not think it could be said that the Mona Lisa conveys a transcendental message. All of these different models have lead me to my own definition of art:

What is art?

Who knows? Sit down, shut up, look at the pretty thing then get on with the rest of your life.

I’m bound to get an A if  I use that in my essay, right?

P. S – While I’m at it, how do we know that when Shakespeare was doing his thing, he was sat there purposefully weaving the messages we perceive through his plays? I think this is how he pitched Macbeth when he came up with the idea:

So there’s this Scottish fella, yeah? He’s got a good job, earns a tidy amount, but his missus just keeps banging on, so he just fucking hacks his boss to death and she shuts up and then…other shit, madness, hijinks! I’ll wing it. Get me another beer, fella!

Christopher 08/10/14

So aside from editing Bunbury Magazine and all the larks that go along with it, I write poetry and fiction in my own right. A couple of years ago, I put together a collection of flash fiction called Lightspeed. I go back to it every now and again and try to re-work it into something better – maybe word choices that could be improved, themes that could come through stronger. I concentrated on flash fiction as it seemed to suit the pace my writing allowed at the time. (I have been attempting a novel for the past year though maybe my writing needs to mature a little first.)

Something that also eluded me for a while was poetry itself. Which is why I write it more often now. I figure if I am writing it more I may eventually get the hang of it. This is not (entirely) pointless waffle – I am currently trying to rework Lightspeed into poetry. I started from the beginning yesterday (well, one of the beginnings. More on that at a future date) with a story called ‘Wisteria.’ Here is the original:

Never had so much promise been held in the weather-worn tread of a shoe. As she and he arrived home from a mid-afternoon jaunt to the local public house, the stars had winked at them knowingly. Should the small nugget of white gold they now had in their possession deliver all they hoped, later the stars will be giving them the full Fonzie treatment.

            Usually the rule would be never put anything in your mouth that you’ve had to dig out of your shoe with a pen-knife but drunken hubris and a taste for the wicked had spurred them on.

            She bit the pill in half and swallowed as he looked on in anticipation. Soon the excitement turned to bitter-fresh disappointment.

            ‘Dude. It’s a damn smint!’

Now, when I wrote this, lovingly ripped-off from a real-life event, I wanted to create a nice, light, funny story, despite its slightly taboo subject, or implied subject at any rate. For the poetic version, I wanted to create the rhythm of the music that one would usually listen to whilst under the infl…anyway. The first part I came up with was:

We drink and drink

and drink and drink

from pub to pub

        pub to pub

from pub to pub

        pub to pub

We trawl the bars

and drown in stout

find the door and stagger out

from pub to pub

        pub to pub

The repetition and brevity of words is supposed to reflect the loop nature and hard beats of dance/rave music. I found the opening easy to transpose into this format. It lends itself nicely to the rhythm I am trying to create. However, I was acutely aware of the narrative the story weaves. I found when I tried to bring the narrative over to the poem, the beat broke down:

We stumble and stagger and stutter along,

then I trip over a kerb.

There’s something in the tread of my shoe.

I pull it out and with a thrill

announce that I have found a pill.

Is it ever wise

to eat something you find

in the tread of your shoe?

This part of the story is the story itself. I know it needs to be in the poem to have a poem. After I wrote it, I did what pretentious writers do and automatically tried to justify why a crap part of the poem could work. For this section, I could say that the rhythm breaks down as the 1. the narrator ‘trips over the kerb’ and 2. the narrator wrangles with a whether or not to eat the pill. There is an uncertainty which is reflected by the break in the pattern. That would be fairly lazy justification though, just to avoid rewrites.

Which is what good poetry is all about. Having a simple idea, getting it down on paper and then using many, many more sheets of paper trying to perfect it.

Our Fringe 2014 – Part Two

No point messing about, beating around the bush, wasting time, thinking of different ways to say the same thing at the start of part two of our Edinburgh Fringe round-up. Let’s just get straight into who we saw and our thoughts on them.

Though Po did end up somewhere wonderful while we were walking around one day:

Po at Moriarty

I (Christopher ‘Anything-for-a-free-pint’ Moriarty) did try and get a discount but they were having none of it! Anyway, really no more playing games, into the reviews.

Porky the Poet – The Run DMC Award: As soon as Porky walked on stage, we had the feeling we had seen him before but couldn’t quite place it. Regardless, this was one of the true gems of the Free Fringe. His poetry rolled so easily and naturally from his mouth into our ears, particularly the poem about the first gig of Phil…He’s Phil Jupitus! That’s it. Very commendable in his ideas of what the Fringe should be ie. not a money-making machine but an absolute celebration. Get out to see Porky and definitely by his book, ‘Ten Line Fringe.’

Chris Coltrane – The Cadbury’s Award: Lively and energetic, Chris mixes in a cheeky charm to his show, ‘There’s no heroes left except all of us.’ He is very passionate with a touch of self-deprecation. This highly politicised, animated show also takes the audience to the surprisingly fantastic realm of the power-point presentation with wonderful results. This is a man who goes the extra mile with highly engaging and, in parts, unexpected show. One of the smoothest, polished shows we saw.

Cariad Lloyd – The Trooper Award: This ‘Character Hour’ was first billed as Cariad Lloyd and Louise Ford together but, as we found out when Cariad first came onto the stage, Louise has been offered a job in America. As an audience, we thought this was a rouse though assurances were made by Cariad that it was not. We cannot say how the show was with both performers but, in the absence of her co-star, Cariad still shone. She played really well with the audience, particularly during her Jooooooooooooooooooooooooooooey Beschanel character, which perfectly poked fun at the popular show ‘New Girl.’ Other characters included a french street parkour runner and a feminine hygiene disposable bag. All were brilliantly balanced and performed and enough cannot be sad about Cariad’s spirit.

Aidan Killian – The Janus Award: From where I was sat in the audience, when Aidan walked on stage, he was sporting a Jesus-style beard and flowing hair. When he turned to face us all, half of his head was completey shaved. It was astonishing and perfectly summed up the title of the show, ‘Jesus vs Buddha.’ The best-titled show of the Fringe. His was a well-thought and thought-provoking hour of comedy about how the teachings of these two great men still impact on our lives today with an under-current of his own hilarious attempts to mess with debt-collectors. He was easy on stage and fascinating to listen to. He has said that after the Fringe he wants to teach-stand up to activists because he believes laughter can really change the world. Well sad, that man. We salute you.

Dr Sicko’s Comedy Vomit – Walking on the Razor’s Edge Award: Jay Islaam, ‘Dr Sicko’, presents an hour of comedy which was banned from over 100 venues at the Fringe. It did exactly what it set out to do, especially at the end of the show when he created a very uncomfortable but intelligently presented moment for the audience, which I will not put here, but was very commendable.

We also saw a few paid shows…

Andrew Lawrence – A lot of Andrew’s show was about how he feels his career is on the downward curve. If that’s the case, keep going because this was the funniest set we have seen by him. He is always a pleasure to watch and had us in stitches.

Richard Herring – Watching a Richard Herring show always has the feel of seeing someone having the best time ever on stage. If you are a long-time fan, you will know that ‘The Lord of the Dance-Settee.’ is a long-running reference in his work and this show felt like he had finally worked it into something wonderful. We also had a bonus bit of Christian Reilly singing the titular song.

What Does The Title Matter Anyway? – This was not, for legal reasons ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ but, let’s face it, with Clive Anderson hosting a series of hilariously-performed improv games by Greg Proops, Mike McShane, Stephen Thompson and Lee Simpson, it doesn’t really matter. We were also treated to the rare sighting of Paul Merton in his natural habitat: on stage in his pants.

Special mention to Thom Tuck for best flyer of the Fringe: Find him on Twitter @turlygod

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Our Fringe 2014 – Part One

Here at Bunbury Magazine, we love creativity in all shapes and media. We have featured writing, photography, art and interviews with musicians, playwrights and all sorts of lovely people. We basically try to create a cornucopia of loveliness on-line with each issue. Given this, we thought it was only right that this year we take a trip to Edinburgh for the biggest cornucopia of loveliness in the world – the Fringe and International Arts Festival. According to the Edinburgh Guide, this year there will be “49,497 performances of 3,193 shows in 299 venues across Scotland’s capital city.” How could we miss that?

We couldn’t! So we packed up our suitcase for four days and headed up with our mascot, Pinhead Po.Pinhead Po

Over the next few posts we shall be giving you a round-up of the shows we saw and the hijinks we got up to while we were up at the biggest arts festival in the world. Also, we will be giving awards out to all those deserving and hard-working folks at the Free Fringe!

Ben Target – The Audience Participation Award: As we queued up for Hooray for Ben Target (pronounced Tar-jay), the director asked if anyone could help collect imaginary lemons. We could not pass this up so the three of us hit the streets in search of fruits of the mind. When we arrived back at The Banshee Labyrinth, we were treated to highlights of the show we had come to see and were currently stood outside of. We were eventually let in very quietly by the eponymous Ben who had started crafting an imaginary cake with the help of the audience. The show was filled with silliness and very good-humoured jiggery-pokery as well as a history lesson on Target’s grandfather. This show is definitely not to be missed!

Cormac Friel – The Michael Palin Award: The first thing that struck us about Cormac is just how nice he is. Quite possibly the nicest person we met at the Fringe. In his show at the Jekyll and Hyde, called Alpha Fail, he discusses what it is to be an ‘alpha male’ in today’s world. His stage presence was easy and reassuring which really helped draw the audience into his world. Also, one of the best flyers for a show at the Fringe.

Pierre Hollins – Every Breath You Take Award: We first saw Pierre at Porky the Poet’s Free Fringe show (more on that to follow) where he did a guest spot. The day after, we bumped into him on Niddry Street we he met Po. On the third day, we went to see his show, sat in the front row and stared as he said words. It’s no wonder we were dubbed his first official stalkers! He has been on the circuit for 30 years and his experience shows. He was terrific on the stage, particularly when he broke out his guitar.

Richard Tyrone Jones – Stewart Lee Award and My (Christopher) Best Joke of the Fringe: ‘What The F*ck Is This? One man. One hour. Five words.’ The flyer says exactly what this show does. Richard, in a tweed jacket, boxer shorts, shoes and nothing else says nothing but those five words for an hour. In different orders and different voices, of course. There is an accompanying slide show with increasing bizarre pictures and bags of audience interaction in this manic, patience-testing and ultimately rewarding show. Half the audience had left by the end but they really missed out, especially one beautiful moment where everything was turned on it’s head at the end. Best Joke: The ‘The The/Bruce Forsythe’ joke. Saying anything more would be a huge spoiler!

Wil Hodgson – The Missions and Values Award:  Wil Hodgson’s show is called ‘You Will Be Taken From This Place’ and that is exactly he does. Using a beautifully descriptive and well penned set, he truly does take his audience away on an amazing informative historical journey. He begins this journey by saying that he has been doing comedy and the Fringe for a long time and wanted to try something different; a spoken word show, about the history of capital punishment in Britain, with much of the story based around the hanging of Peter Allen ( hope I got that right, don’t fail me now Wikipedia) It was a fascinating show with parts of humour though comedy was never the main aim of the show. Wil is talking about taking it on tour and we implore him to do so and all of you to get out and see it!

Darren Walsh – The Milton Vine Award: We sadly were not able to make Darren’s pun-filled half-hour though we were drawn to him whilst he was flyering for his show by the board around his neck advertising ‘FREE PUNS.’ Even with the word ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’ he did not disappoint! A full review of his show, ‘Chicken Meow’ will follow in the future.

Christian Reilly – The Aint No Rest For The Wicked/Money Don’t Grow on Trees Award: What do you like in a free show? Do you like comedy? Music? Saving money on seeing Boris Johnson, Lady Gaga and Bon Jovi live? Christian Reilly is a consummate master of taking some of the biggest and hottest topics plaguing society today such as bullying and the food racism of the traffic light system. Beware though, his songs WILL get stuck in your head. Beautifully addictive.

Valdermar Pustelnik – The We’ve Got Fun ‘n’ Games: On our very first day at the Fringe this year, we were sat in a Subway having a spot of breakfast when we saw a man in a Viking hat with a great big ginger beard handing out flyers for a show called ‘My Demons are Bigger then Yours.’ This was a really touching and funny show about one man’s struggle with what it means to really be a man today and whether or not his family need him or he needs them…if only to find his pants! We also find out that you can say pretty much anything you want if you wear an impressive hat. Great delivery and emotion in a well-crafted show.

More to follow. Much, much more!

Playstation Gamescom Press Conference Recap

It’s time to recap the Playstation press conference from Gamescom. As I stated in my recap of Microsoft’s presentation there are a few things that need to be remembered and I’m going to copy and paste them here. First off I don’t yet own any new gen consoles, however I will attempt to write this either as if I owned them or as a perspective buyer. Secondly be weary of the term exclusive, too many times we’ve heard the word exclusive bandied around when the words timed exclusive or console exclusive might have been more applicable. Finally I will be writing about the games as I see them but remember publishers lie. As we have discovered in the past with Killzone 2, Colonial Marines and more recently Watch Dogs, what is shown might not be what we get. We have been misled before and it is important to keep expectations in check. Be excited but don’t be fooled.

Sony’s game division is currently in a very strong position at the moment (even if the rest of the company seems intent on killing itself) after an excellent E3 last year and what I personally thought was a good E3 this year, although most people believe Nintendo had the best showing and it’s easy to see why. Some very bad decisions at the launch of the PS3 has taught them a lesson about being arrogant and thinking your better than your customer, or at least taught them to hide it better, and those lessons have been paying off so far, so let us see if they can keep that going.

The stream started before the actual presentation had kicked off, however we were treated to a few trailers while we wait. Included in this were “Little Big Planet 3” (I am unsure if this is still Media Molecule helming or someone else) and From Software’s much anticipated “Bloodborne.” Both trailers appeared to show gameplay and I am looking forward to playing both of these titles. I’m a big fan of the LBP series and I’ve been meaning to pick up copies of Dark Souls and its sequel for a while.

The conference started up eventually with a montage of different games sown at past events. Jim Ryan the CEO of SCEE is presenting tonight and kicks things off with the announcement that Sony has sold ten million PS4’s to customers. Good for them but not exactly why we’re watching, also claiming that these very impressive numbers are down to the PS4’s social features might be a bit of stretch. Dylan Cuthbert from Q games, creators of the Pixel Junk series, arrives on stage to introduce a trailer for their new game “The Tomorrow Children.” This is a weird, cute looking but ever so slightly creepy (just realised I’m going to be using the word creepy quite a bit in this) game that seems to involve lots of characters mining statues or stone giants and defending themselves from attackers in a weird communist themed society. It was with some disappointment that I learned later that this game is probably a multiplayer online only game. This is followed by a trailer for “The Vanishing of Ethan Carter” by Avalanche Games. There wasn’t a lot shown in this trailer, from what I can gather it appears to involve ghosts, puzzles and a possible murder mystery but it’s hard to be sure.

Mike Bithel, creator of the indie darling “Thomas was Alone” takes the stage. There’s a bit of brown nosing for Sony but can’t argue with the respect they’re giving the indie scene at the moment. Bithel is here to show a trailer for his new game “Volume,” an “old-school” stealth game inspired by Metal Gear Solid which he claims is a retelling of the story of Robin Hood. To be honest from the brief gameplay they showed I fail to see what this had to do with Robin Hood outside of a character being called Rob, but the game looks fun if a bit aesthetically dull (it basically looks like the VR training from early MGS games.)

A trailer now for “Holowpoint” from Paradox Games, a side scrolling shooter, which are usually fun but not overly original. It will be interesting to see what this game can do that’s special. There’s also some chatting about a deal Sony have with Paradox for games and console exclusives or timed exclusives. This is followed by Dean Hall (“I’m a grenade see.”) coming to the stage to talk about how great DayZ is and that there will be a console version coming to PS4. DayZ is an incredibly popular zombie survival game that started life as a mod for Arma 2. This announcement should make a lot of people happy and it is worth researching the crazy stories that have come from this multiplayer game where any player could be your friend or a psychopath ready to kill you and steal your tinned beans. Unfortunately no footage was shown of a PS4 version so I’ve got to wonder how far along this plan actually is.

We were then treated to trailers for a new Ninja Theory game “Hellblade.” The trailer was a cg creation that showed and told you nothing about the game other than it has a creepy scarecrow, a lead character that looks like the protagonist from PS3 launch game Heavenly Sword, and a big sword with runes on it. It’s probably safe to assume it’s another hack and slash or spectacle fighter from Ninja Theory. This was followed by a trailer for the fully exclusive “Rime” by Tequilaworks, a gorgeous looking game with an art style similar to that of Nintendo’s Wind Waker. I’m kind of hoping this isn’t a Proteus rip-off and to be fair there looks like there’s actually stuff to do and puzzles to solve in this game. This game has potential and I’d like to see how it plays out.

It’s now time for the predictable “we love indie developers, honest” indie montage. A surprisingly small selection was shown in this montage, and annoyingly it doesn’t mention the names of the developers for each game which means I’ve had to look them up myself. The following games are all apparently making their console debut on PS4 first;

“Snow” by Poppermost,
“Dreamfall Chapters” by Red Thread,
“Pixel Junk Nom Nom Galaxy” by Q-Games/ Double Eleven,
“Pix the Cat” by Pastagames,
“Papers, Please” by Lucas Pope (this is an excellent catch for Sony,)
“In Space we Brawl” by Forge Reply,
“Ether One” by White Paper Games,
and “Qube 2” by Toxic Games.

Not a huge selection however I’m incredibly pleased to see “Papers, Please” coming to consoles. The game might be basic in graphics and mechanics but if what I’ve heard is true you’ll be emotionally involved in this game after a short time and the agonizing decisions and their consequences will have you thinking about it for a long time afterwards.

After this we had Eric Hirshberg, the CEO of Activision, followed by Jonty Barnes, Bungie’s director of production, to talk about Destiny again. I’ve got to be honest I am starting to get sick of hearing about this, if you’re a fan of shooters and a fan of Bungie’s work on Halo I’m sure this game will be great, but to me it looks like another FPS, a pretty FPS and no doubt a good one, and with music by Paul McCartney and voice acting by the great Peter Dinklage you can’t go far wrong, but I’m just tired of the marketing and hype for this thing, and does it really need more conference stage time this close to release. Anyway we get the usual announcement of timed exclusive content for PS4 in the form of maps and expansions, the announcement that Destiny has become the most pre-order new IP in history (god damn it gamers enough with the pre-orders) and a trailer showing off the competitive multiplayer in a multiplayer only shooting game. The trailer seemed to be showing off different match types but it was hardly informative or just showing regular matched we’re used to in other multiplayer games but with different names.

Ubisoft’s “Far Cry 4” is up next with creative director Alex Hutchinson presenting us with a trailer showcasing the games environments. This game looks absolutely stunning and I hope it still looks this good on release and more importantly I hope they keep the fun of “Far Cry 3” intact. We also finally get details on the PS4 exclusive feature, Keys of Kyrat. Basically when you buy the game you get ten “keys,” when you send one of these keys to a friend they will be able to play Far Cry 4’s co-op with you for up to two hours without owning the game themselves. While this isn’t as good as they made it sound at E3 this is still a pretty sweet deal and a good way to market the game. This is followed by a trailer from Warner Brothers Games for “Middle Earth: Shadows of Mordor.” Unfortunately I can’t tell if this is gameplay, in engine, or just flat out cg, I think there might be a mixture but there was not enough footage shown to be sure.

We now have an appearance form the legend himself Hideo Kojima. Unfortunately he doesn’t have a lot to show us but we do get to see some more upgrades for that essential sneaking tool the cardboard box. The video being played shows off the box’s new abilities such as standing up in it with a picture of a saluting soldier or a bikini model on the front in order to trick, confuse and distract enemies from discovering you. It all ends with Big Boss/ Naked Snake/ Punished Snake/ Venom Snake/ whatever they’re calling him now Big Punished Naked Venom Snake Boss, sitting on the floor with a PS4 box on his head. A very amusing trailer that shows despite the darker story elements the Metal Gear series hasn’t yet lost its weird sense of humour. As a huge fan of the Metal Gear series I have high hopes for this one and really hope Kojima doesn’t pull a George Lucas on us and f*** it up in some horrible way.

The next part of this conference is a mysterious trailer from a new developer 7780s Studio for their game “P.T.” As many of you might already know, in between seeing the conference and writing this blog the truth behind this interactive teaser “P.T.” was figured out by gamers. However for those who don’t already know the truth I won’t spoil it for you in this blog post, instead if you have a PS4 I highly recommend you download this free demo from the store if you can and attempt to complete this demo, failing that find a gameplay video on YouTube like I did and watch it, I recommend this one and this one in that order (which since writing has had annotations added to it to spoil the suprise, typical.) Be aware though, I was incredibly unnerved by this game, it was incredibly creepy, unnerving and barring a few cheap jump scares really knew how make you afraid. I was intrigued by the weird trailer they showed in this conference (barring the stupid “gamer reactions” bit which just irritates me) but knowing now what it truly is has me very excited.

We now move on to the announcement of firmware updates (how exciting), during this section Jim Ryan talked about adding the ability to upload footage directly to YouTube with the share button and we finally got some information on the “shareplay” feature that was promised back at the PS4 reveal. Playstation Plus subscribers will have the ability to virtually pass the controller to a friend (I assume a PS+ subscriber) during a game even if that friend doesn’t own the game, this apparently includes couch co-op games and no doubt utilises streaming technology with you streaming footage of the gameplay to the friend in question. Sony also announced that “Playstation Now,” their by all accounts underwhelming overpriced rental streaming service would be coming to Europe soon with a beta starting in the UK in January, and that “Playstation TV” a nifty little device that plays Vita games on your TV and can stream games from your PS4 to another TV in your house, would also be coming to Europe. All this talk of streaming games via wifi and the internet would be great if Sony’s stream of this conference didn’t keep breaking on their end while they were talking about it. Not giving us a lot of faith in your streaming abilities guys. There was also some talk of their highly anticipated VR headset “Project Morpheus” however don’t ask me what was said because of the aforementioned broken stream.

On a more positive note Michael Denny from Sony World Wide Studios came out to re-introduce first party exclusive “Until Dawn” by Supermassive games. This game is another creepy horror game whose premise involves teenagers spending a night in a cabin in true slasher flick style. The hook of the game is that your decisions affect who will live and who will die by the end of the game, every character as a chance of living or dying and if it can live up to that promise, if the gameplay and mechanics are good and if those graphics are in engine and gameplay, then this game is going to be a real treat.

We now move on to often talked about and constantly delayed “Drive Club.” At this point it’s starting to get embarrassing. Like most racing games Drive Club is graphically amazing, (assuming those are the actual graphics but who knows at this point) and the dynamic weather effects look good but how much different can it truly be from other racing games and after so many delays is anyone still interested at this point. Maybe it’s because I’m not a fan of racing games but I don’t see the appeal in this game and Sony need to get this over with or take it round the back and shoot it. On the plus side no one said “drivetar.”

We now have Sony darlings Media Molecule on stage to announce we are getting a port (although they refuse to call it that) of the Vitas “Tearaway.” This lovely little game that took advantage of the Vita’s functions will be making use of the PS4 controller’s specific functions such as using the touch pad to control the wind or throw objects to the characters, or using the light bar to shine a light into the game world and affect the environment. This is looks like a lot of silly fun and will be great for people who don’t own a Vita but one can’t help but feel Sony are continuing their campaign of screwing over their own handheld console. The Vita is already struggling to find an audience and why should we buy one if you’re going to just end up porting its best games to PS4.

We now come to the last announcements of the night. Housemarque unveil their new game “Alienation” with a gory cg trailer which when we get to gameplay appears to be a twin sticks/ directional shooter. The game looks fun but hardly ground breaking. Finally we end with Michel Ancel announcing his new game from his own Wild Sheep Studios “Wild.” This game, which invokes memories of a little known PS1 game called “Tail of the Sun,” involves cavemen and animals living in an open world supposedly “as big as Europe” (I’ll believe it when I see it.) It’s a cool trailer but it appears to be entirely pre rendered and therefore doesn’t show what the game truly is. Regardless of this I am interested in this game and kind of hope it turns out to be more than just a caveman survival game.

And that’s the end of the press conference, however the post show had some trailers to show off and some mildly annoying hosts to talk about them. We got a bit more “Bloodborne” gameplay and that game still looks great, plus a trailer for “Order 1886” showing off some of the games weapons. I’m really interested in this games steam punk horror setting which might breathe some life into cover shooters, I just hope this doesn’t end up like former Xbox One exclusive “Ryse,” all flash and quick time events and no substance. We also got more trailers for “Infamous Second Son” DLC/ expansion, “Far Cry 4,” ”Until Dawn,” “Little Big Planet 3” and “Drive Club.” The “Until Dawn” footage interested me most has it claimed to be showing actual gameplay. Assuming this isn’t bullshit then the graphics look brilliant and it appears it might be a horror adventure game of some sort. I just hope the gameplay doesn’t boil down to a David Cage style walk around and push the button on the screen to occasionally make a decision.

Overall Sony as had a decent showing this night. I’m not as blown away as I was at their last two E3s and for some reason even though Sony had more I was interested in I was more impressed after Microsoft’s conference. It’s only with hindsight I’m starting to appreciate what Sony showed and nothing beats what happened with “P.T.” although that was actually nothing to do with Sony as I will discuss in a few days. Either way I’m feeling positive about what I’ve seen and I am cautiously optimistic about the future. Let’s just hope we haven’t sat through a bunch of industry lies, I’m sure there are enough of them in the EA conference which I will be recapping next.

Richard Hillier – Bunbury Correspondent

Gamescom Xbox Press Conference Recap

Gamescon is currently happening in Cologne Germany as of writing and so far there have been three press conferences from Microsoft, Sony and EA with a forth from Konami Scheduled later this evening. After watching the life streams I have decided to recap the announcements made and offer opinions on what I saw.
However there is something that we need to discuss. First off I don’t yet own any new gen consoles, however I will attempt to write this either as if I owned them or as a perspective buyer. Secondly be weary of the term exclusive, too many times we’ve heard the word exclusive bandied around when the words timed exclusive or console exclusive might have been more applicable. Finally I will be writing about the games as I see them but remember publishers lie. As we have discovered in the past with Killzone 2, Colonial Marines and more recently Watch Dogs, what is shown might not be what we get. We have been misled before and it is important to keep expectations in check. Be excited but don’t be fooled.
With that said let us start with the Xbox Conference.

Microsoft has had a rough start this generation. While the Xbox One is by no means doing badly it is definitely lagging behind the competition at the moment. A lot of back pedalling on unwanted and poorly explained features and a decent showing at this year’s E3 has put them back on track but there’s still a lot to make up for.
We open with a trailer for Ubisofts Assassins Creed Unity. The setting is interesting although this trailer doesn’t show much about the game. While it wasn’t presented in this trailer I can’t say I’m happy with the focus on co-op. It feels unnecessary to what was once a great single player experience and I hope this new focus doesn’t interfere with the ability to play on your own if you so choose.
Enter Phil Spencer, the new head of the Xbox division and the man tasked with getting the Xbox One back on course, who then proceeds to talk about Fifa 15 and EA access. EA access is EAs subscription service and on the surface appears to be a good deal. A few dollars a month to access some free games from EAs back catalogue, discounts for future games and dlc, and brief access to new games a few days early. However forgive me for being a little bit distrusting of EA in this situation, if anyone can find a way to use this to screw over the consumer it’s them. Phil Spencer also took this opportunity to announce a Fifa 15 Xbox One bundle available in Europe the day the game comes out. We then had David Rutter, general manager of EA sports, and former footballer Peter Schmeichel to talk about creating teams in ultimate team mode using Fifa legends. To be honest I failed to see the point in this segment as all they essentially did was tell you what ultimate team mode was which I’m sure fans of the series already knew and people who didn’t could’ve been informed with the words “You can make a team using famous footballers.” After this we got a montage of the Fifa legends that would be exclusive to Xbox including but not limited to Alan Shearer and Sir Bobby Moore.
Indie game time. Chris Charla from ID@Xbox came on stage to talk about Xbox’s indie timed exclusives. We were presented with a montage of the many indie games making console debuts on Xbox One and It has to be said many of them look great (and some not so much.) The games in this montage were (deep breath);
“Blues and Bullets” by A Crowd Of Monsters,
“Cuphead” by Studio MDHR,
“Dungeon of the Endless” by Amplitude Studios,
“Fruit Ninja Kinect 2” by Halfbrick/ Hibernum Creations (Yeah, Kinect is pretty much dead),
“Funk of Titans” by A Crowd of Monsters,
“Ghost of a Tale” by SeithCG,
F****** “Goat Simulator” by Coffee Stain Studios/ Double II (God Damn Goat Simulator),
“Gunscape” by Blowfish Studios,
“Massive Chalice” by Doublefine,
“Inside” by Playdead,
“Knight Squad” by Chainsawesome Games,
“Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime” by Asteroid Base,
“#IDARB” by Other Ocean,
“No Time to Explain” by tinyBuild,
“Plague Inc: Evolved” by Ndemic Creations,
“Rivals of Aether” by Dan Fornace,
“Smite” by Hi-Rez Studios,
“Slashdash” by Nevernaut Games,
“Space Engineers” by Keen Software House,
“Spectra” by Gateway Interactive,
“Pneuma: Breath of Life” by Deco Digital/ Bevel Studios,
“Threes!” by Sirvo/ Hidden Variable (really guys, Threes!),
“The Escapists” by Team17,
“Volgarr the Viking” by Crazy Viking Studios,
“SpeedRunners” by tinyBuild/ Double Dutch Games,
and “Superhot” by Superhot.
A couple of the games on this list got extra attention from Microsoft after this however I’d like to give special mention to two games that caught my eye and one that should be burnt to the ground. I am loving Cuphead’s old timey cartoon visuals, no idea what you actually do in the game but it looks great, and I really liked the look of Ghost of a Tale, come on, you play a cgi mouse in a RPG fantasy setting, what’s not to love.

Look at it's cute little whiskers. I SAID LOOK AT IT!!
Look at it’s cute little whiskers. I SAID LOOK AT IT!!

Dishonourable mention to Goat Simulator, the joke was barely funny to begin with, why is this being ported to consoles, are we actually stupid enough to buy an April fools joke. I despair for humanity I really do.

During this indie segment Microsoft spend time taking a closer look at a few select games, some of which are already available on Steam. We got a bit of footage of space engineers (available on Steam early access, eeeeww.) showing off some of the gameplay, “Space Engineers is a sandbox game about engineering, construction and maintenance of space works. Players build space ships and space stations of various sizes and utilization (civil and military), pilot ships and perform asteroid mining.” (Quote taken from the space engineers’ website.) Next up we have a trailer for Superhot. While the trailer was bloody stupid (do we really need a narrator just saying the words super hot over and over again, your flashing them up on the screen as well.) the game itself is interesting, on the surface it’s just another first person shooter, the twist is that time only flows when you’re moving and you need to use this to strategise your attacks. We then had “The Escapists” by Worms developer Team17. This 2d top down game appears to be an RPG set in a prison. It looks neat and I look forward to playing this one day. Finally we have “Smite,” a third person fantasy MOBA. To be honest that’s about all I can say about it, I didn’t see anything that seperates this from other, already established, MOBAs. The indie section ended with a brief trailer a game called “below,” a trailer that simultaneously showed me gameplay and told me nothing about it.
So back to Spencer for a look at Activision’s “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare,” Sledgehammer games first attempt at a full Call of Duty game. Co-founders of Sledghammer Games Glenn Schofield and Michael Condry presented this segment and started off by talking about the innovation and great story in this instalment of COD. No offense to fans of the series but I remain sceptical of that claim. We are then shown a level called “collapse” which takes place on the golden gate bridge (guess what happens.) If this is truely gameplay then there is no denying that this is a damn good looking game, the visuals were very impressive. We had some basic shooting shown off and a few interesting weapons like homing/hovering/flying grenades, although I was under the impression they were supposed to be showing off this exo-suit the characters are all wearing and all the cool things it can do, all I saw was some Titanfall style boost jumping. I’m actually cautiously optimistic about this game, while I doubt it will innovate as much as Sledgehammer claims I do think this might be the game this franchise needs to get it out of its rut, and having Kevin Spacey in your game is always a plus. This footage came with the par for the course announcement that Xbox would have exclusive add on content (probably timed). Following this was the announcement a COD:AW Xbox One bundle with a terabyte hard drive, don’t look at the price, you won’t be happy.
Phil Robb from Turtle Rock on stage now to talk about “Evolve.” The Xbox One is getting an exclusive beta in January and at this conference they showed off gameplay footage from a new map. I’ve got to say I am really interested in this game. Four players face off against one other player controlling a monster that evolves in different ways during the battle, with the many different ways it can adapt changing each match. I only wish there was a single player mode for this game, this industry needs to stop forgetting about the single player experience. The footage of the match being played looks fun but the two guys they’ve got doing a sports style commentary is grating, also one of the guys on stage is calling the other “j-Party.” No hope for the human race.
We briefly get Phil Harrison out on stage to introduce Darell Gallagher from Crystal Dynamics to talk about the new Tomb Raider game “Rise of the Tomb Raider.” With this comes perhaps the biggest announcement of the night, Rise of the Tomb Raider will be and Xbox exclusive. While they are being vague with the meaning of the word exclusive (“Exclusive to Xbox in holiday 2015, what does that mean guys,) this is a huge deal, on Microsoft’s side well done for nabbing one of the biggest franchises the industry as an exclusive, on Square Enix’s side what the hell were they thinking. To quote Escapist Magazines Jim Sterling “So Tomb Raider sells under expectations and Square Enix makes Rise of the Tomb Raider an XBO exclusive. This industry.” As I was grabbing this quote for this article I found a news story revealing that this is indeed a TIMED exclusive, I’m thinking that Microsoft and Crystal Dynamics should be banned from using the word exclusive again, in fact they should be banned from using words.
Next we have Sam Lake from Remedy to finally show gameplay from their Xbox exclusive title “Quantum Break.” They’ve been talking about this game since the Xbox One reveal in 2013 while only showing cgi and live action trailers and something about a TV. show tie in (is that still happening with Microsoft shutting down their Xbox TV division.) Finally we get to see this much anticipated game in action. Turns out it’s a cover shooter, well that was worth it. To be fair it does have an interesting mechanic in form of time manipulation, you freeze or run through time to confuse and ambush enemies, adding a new tactical edge to combat and powerful ways to attack foes such as stopping time, firing a barrage of bullets and then un-stopping time so they all fire at once. It’s a good looking game and if they can keep the time manipulation mechanic fresh and interesting it might be good fun, I just hope that cover shooting with some time powers isn’t all this game has going for it.
We then got another look at the latest entry in the Fable series “Fable Legends.”I wasn’t particularly blown away by this co-op fantasy game when it was announced at E3 this year and this trailer has done nothing to change that, the characters seem annoying and it looks like another third person generic fantasy MOBA, however I do like the idea of a fifth player taking control of the villain and setting up the traps and enemies Dungeons and Dragons style.
We then got a CGI trailer for new IP “Scream Ride,” which appears to be a futuristic “Theme Park” or “Rollercoaster Tycoon.” Nothing particularly special but when we see more I’m sure there will be people who will be all over this, it’s been a while since I last played a ”Theme Park” style game.
The next several minutes were dedicated to two Forza games. Forza 5 will be receiving new cars including a Rolls Royce Wraith, the first Rolls Royce to appear in a videogame apparently. We were then subjected to a talk about Forza Horizon 2. I will say what everyone has been saying for the past year, “Drivetar” is a stupid bloody word. The buzzword here is social, apparently we all want to be social and the developers want us to be social so social features are being implemented in this social game for social people and if this guy says social one more time I’m going to go to Redmond and hit someone.
Time for “Ori and the Blind Forest” from moon studios. I have high hopes for this Xbox and PC exclusive, it’s a 2D platformer and it looks gorgeous and while I don’t think this new gameplay trailer showed enough to get me excited previous trailers have shown a very promising game.
Next up we have Ted Price from Insomniac studios, creators of the popular “Ratchet and Clank” and “Resistance” franchises. Time for another “Sunset Overdrive” trailer and while it didn’t really show us anything new other than another insufferable character, this bright, colourful, insane, free-roaming, stylish zombie monster shooter looks like a lot of fun and a welcome change from all the realistic browns and greys we’ve put up with the past few years. We also got the announcement of another Xbox One bundle to coincide with this game.
Last gaming related segment of the night which will make a lot of Xbox fans happy. The end of the show was dedicated to Microsoft’s heavy hitter “Halo.” Bonnie Ross from 343 came on to talk about the “Masterchief Collection.” The collection originally contained updated HD versions of the first four Halo games but will now also include the new live action “Halo Nightfall” TV show and a beta for Halo 5’s multiplayer. They also announced a Halo channel, an interactive network on Xbox and Windows with Halo content and a partnership with Twitch. I honestly have no idea what they were on about but there were lots of images on the screen. Dan Ayoub came on stage to show a demo of the collection. During a very brief playthrough of Halo 2 they showed that you had the ability to change the games graphics from the classic setting to the new upgraded ones at the touch of a button. He then goes on to talk about the multiplayer and how they will be using Halo 2’s levelling system. We were then shown a multiplayer match from the collection with what I believe was some cheesy scripted e-sports style commentary before heading back to Bonnie for a quick video about the Halo 5 beta. This collection sounds pretty amazing if you don’t already own the games and unless there’s a catch it’s hard not to recommend it.
We are at the end of the show with one final small announcement from Phil Spencer that pre-downloads (downloading a game before release date ready to be played on day one) would be coming soon. Had to laugh slightly at the final “thank you for your constant feedback” line. You were getting that feedback ages ago but still went ahead with stupid decisions anyway until it bit you in the arse.
Overall a pretty decent showing barring a few irritations and lack lustre reveals. For the most part though Microsoft seems to be getting back on course but need to show they can deliver on the promises of great content and show that they can be trusted, not an easy task after the stupid mistakes and lies but maybe things will change for the better and finished this show feeling mostly positive about what they’ve got in store. Just please stop with the drivetars and pre-order bullshit.

Check in in the near future when I will recap the other three press conferences.

Richard Hillier – Bunbury Correspondent

Cofio Nigel and the launch of “Encounters with Nigel”

On Saturday 19th July the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea held an event for the launch of the book “Encounters with Nigel,” a collection of tributes, essays and poems by friends, colleagues and former students put together by Jon Gower and Ali Anwar, as well as a tribute night to the memory of Nigel Jenkins who unfortunately passed away on the 27th January 2014. The number of people at this event was clear sign of the love many had for this man and his work.
The night begins with Jon Gower and Ali Anwar talking about the book, how they came to write it and the time they spent with Nigel over their lives. One thing that stuck in my mind was the fact they both mentioned how special Nigel made them feel, as the night went on it would become clear that this was common feeling that he inspired in the people he met.
With Gower as MC for the night, the speakers and performers for the night were introduced and brought on stage to pay tribute. Ifor Thomas starts things by talking about Nigel’s contributions to the Welsh Union of Writers, again a common theme throughout this evening was his contribution to various groups and publications and the positive outcome of these influences, and then delivered two poems of his own work dedicated to Nigel, “Forenames” and “Post-Funeral.” Following this, former student Jane Fraser talked about Nigel’s book Gower and his distaste for people’s use of the term “THE Gower.”
At this point Jon Gower returned to read a passage he’d written after Nigel’s passing and an eulogy written by Bryn Griffiths who was unable to make the event. After this Stevie Davies came on stage to talk about charity, Nigel’s generosity and his love of the sea. After a delightful tale of the swimming competitions they used to have the matter of the charity swim that Stevie is doing came up. She plans to swim out to Rotherslade Beach (their Plage Principale’) in aid of pancreatic cancer research. I would encourage you to go to the just giving page and donate if you can spare anything.
The rest of the night followed in much the same way with wonderful stories and anecdotes about this powerful man and the influence he had on so many people. Former students, colleagues and friends each in turn came to stage, or appeared in pre recorded messages, and taught you something new about the man while all singing the same praises. There was much talk of his contributions to the welsh union of writers, his influence on several publications and readings of his essays, poetry and haikus with each person showing a clear love and passion for the pieces they read. I want to mention in particular the tributes and presentations by (apologies if I have gotten these names wrong or mixed up with others) Ambert Hiscott and Osi Rhys Osmond. Ambert’s “Dear Nigel” was perhaps the second most moving part of the night and Osi’s Stories of travelling with Nigel were incredibly entertaining and had people laughing at Nigel’s antics.
The finale of the night was Angharad and Delyth Jenkins playing the violin and harp respectively. The music these two played was perhaps the most moving and wonderful part of the night and Angharad’s reading of her father’s poetry to her mother’s harp playing was fantastic. One more song by Angharad and a friend and the night was done.
I confess I never knew of Nigel until our own Keri-Ann told me about him, and I never met the man. But if the things these people have said tonight are a true indication of his personality then I’m sad that I will never have that opportunity.

We also dedicated a portion of issue four to the wonderful man himself. Please take the time to read some of the beautiful tributes here: Bunbury Issue Four.

The legends were true, Issue 5 is here.

bunbury mythology

Yes it is here. Ladies and gentlemen we are proud to present issue 5 of Bunbury Magazine the Mythology special. Today’s issue features stories, poems and articles by the following wonderful talents; Amanda Madison, Rhea Philips, Amyus Bale, Ceri Thomas, Catherine Graham, Jacqueline Sheppard, Dave Shannon, Larry Lefkowitz, Pietro Massaro, David Mcvey, Emma Whitney, Jenny Leigh, Natalie Dibsdale, Charles Bane, Andrew Kirby and the continuation of Kurt Jarram’s “Yum Yum.”

There’s also an interview with Stephen James who runs the Spoken Word Showcase in The Crescent Pub in Salford and a selection of the performers at this event including Rosa Wright, Chris Jam, Laura Parrott, Zach Roddis, Intoxikie and Genevieve Walsh.

The next Spoken Word Showcase is July 17th so if you’re in the area get down there.

That’s all for now, the next issues theme will be memory so get your submissions sent to bunburymagazine@gmail.com if you don’t want to be forgotten.

Update on Bunbury thingys

Hello all you wonderful bunburyists, just a quick update on the things that have been going on.

“Do the write thing” has launched and has been featured in the local press, bit of exposure is always nice as long as it’s not indecent.

bunburydothewritethingnewspaperbunburydothewritething

Remember to be at Joqux O’th Rock bar every Tuesday to see it, plus there will be a poetry night once a month starting next week with further plans for a play performance night every six months so tonne of stuff going on.

In other news our very own editors/dictators/overlords Christopher and Keri-Ann performed at a poetry night called “Spoken Word” held at the Crescent Pub in Salford.

The final piece of gossip is that Christopher Moriarty is hoping to get his book “Lightspeed” released early next year something we’d all love to see happen.

That about wraps it up for news for the time being, only thing left to say is look forward to all the fantastic things coming up and look out for the next issue of Bunbury which should go down as a thing of legends (get it… the next issues theme is mythology, it’s literally a thing  with legends in it, shut up I’m funny.)

Bunbury magazine, testing, testing, 1,2.

 

Hello there!

Well. Look at us all WordPressy and bloggy.

Sooo! How have you been? Family keeping well? Good. Right, enough small talk, we want you. We want you bad(ly) and we just can’t hide it any more. We want you in our magazine.

The next issue is due out early next month and the theme is Mythology. We are , as you may have already gathered, taking submissions to this end, so please get in touch at bunburymagazine@gmail.com.

 

Tonight also sees Bunbury Magazine in association with Joqux O’th Rock, kick off the new Bury based writing group ‘Do The Write Thing’. It is running every Tuesday evening from tonight for the foreseeable from 7:30-9:30. All genres, styles and disciplines are welcome so if you’re knocking about the area, please come and see what the fuss is about! We have big plans for this writer’s group so get involved!

Anywhooo, that’s enough blithering from us, we’re off to raid the shops for biscuits. Man cannot live on tea alone after all.

 

Love ‘n’ hugs,

Bunbury
(Christopher and Keri)

keri
Yes, I really am that pale.
geoff
Christopher and his magnificent beard and glasses