Archive for August, 2004

iMP vs Neighbours vs Olympics | Media | The BBC wizardry set to make waves

iMP’s in the news again… The press have been having previews the past few weeks, and they seem to like it. So BSkyB want 2.5 million Sky+ users eh? Non-linear TV on the way out then… and along with it the traditional advertising model perhaps.

In other news, the first of the closures recommended by the Graf report happened this week with Pure Soap feeling the axe; or as the replacement flash movie shows, spade and crowbar.

It seems to have been popular with a small community of dedicated soap fans.. note the word community here, but the feeling was that there were plenty other sites and publications catering for this market… still, going out on a laugh is a good thing. Perhaps someone might use iCan, the BBC’s issues action website, to form a ‘bring back pure soap’ committee? Hey, that’s what it’s there for, campaign about issues you care about..

Soap fans are a devoted lot.. quick peak behind the curtain of BBC feedback here… There’s been over 40 complaints to the BBC that Neighbours has been taken off the air while the Olympics is on. Honestly, you think these people could live for two weeks without some washed up Oz soap that’s not been at all interesting for years, I bet even Stefan Dennis hasn’t even got it on his CV anymore and it’s not like he’s worked in a while. Two weeks every four years that’s all… 15 odd days once every 1460, is that too much to ask? ..a bit more sport and a bit less soap watching is a good thing people.

On the other hand there’s been a lot of feedback in praise of the Olympic coverage, especially now we seem to be doing well, especially without the albatross of Henman round our necks. There’s been over 6 million people use the ‘watch anything’ interactive TV service, and a huge take up of ‘watch it all’ online too. So if all you wanted to watch was the women’s beach volley ball, the Beeb’s your man. Now if that ain’t putting the power in the sweaty hand of the user, I don’t know what is.

We like our rock stars dirty, but our athletes clean

So the fly in the olive oil of Greece’s hosting of the Olympics is that their two prize athletes are crook in hospital, to ill it seems, to even talk to the law. It’s all looking mighty suspicious to me. The IOC seem to be coming down hard on anyone this year, but for how much longer?

There are two main issues with the drugs in sport debate. The first one is competition; drugs give a competitor an unfair advantage over everyone else. But surely Michael Schumaker has an unfair advantage being behind the wheel of a Ferrari compared to some of the ‘poorer’ teams? And tennis nowadays is as much about the arms race in carbon fibre racquets technology as it is the player. Bjorn Borg famously tried to make a come back with a wooden racquet in 1991 and got thrashed. What do athletes have to enhance but their bodies?

The other main problem is the moral issue. We not very comfortable with sports stars taking drugs, it’s… well cheating, and distinctly un-British. You can’t very well have a zero tolerance drugs policy on the streets and ‘smack and field’ events at the local athletic club. After all, I grew up with Daley Thompson as a hero in our house, and the only stimulants he ever took was a swig Lucozade and mosh of Iron Maiden….. Entertainment stars on the other hand practically have to do a spell in the Priory as part of their training.

So the argument is this, taking drugs leads to enhanced performance and that’s not fair on the competition. Which when you transplant it across from sport to music, is like….. The Dave Clark Five wanting the Beatles thrown out of the Charts because they ‘cheated’ and produced an ‘enhanced’ Sergeant Pepper while off their tits.

I’m sure the drug companies would love to ‘sponsor’ athletic teams. Who knows, maybe it’ll end up like in some bad sci-fi novel where nations are obsolete and teams are made and paid for by large multi-nationals? Which is a bit like how Formula 1 is now really.

Disclaimer: oh yeah, erm, don’t do drugs kids… m’kay.

Doom, Battlezone and Operation Wolf

Games have been in the news a bit lately…

Doom 3 hits the shelves in the UK today… And this prompted me to think about playing the original Doom. How times have changed eh? Doom 1 used the fledgling interweb to release a shareware of it’s first couple of levels, allowing players to get hooked and then buy the full game. The entire Doom 3 game was leaked on the net, ‘…our profits!’ scream ID execs. Brought home to me how mainstream game production has got… Alice talks about the ‘hollywood’ method here.

Though I played shareware Doom, my main Doom experience came with Doom2. I had my 486DX networked to my flat-mate’s and Doom was one of the first ‘modern’ game I remember that had a co-op feature. Death-match is fine when there’s four or more of you, but gets a little boring with two. More games should come with a co-op feature.

The music was great too, who can forget the classic dum dum…ticka ticka dee dum dum dum.. .ticka, check it out, it’s got some funky Bossa Nova beats in there towards the end… A bit of latin groove sure brighten things up when you’re face with the robotic spawn of hell and can’t find the key for the red door.

All time fave game of all time ever bar none tho’ was Activision’s ’96 version of Battlezone. I spent most of 1997 sat in a tank on mars collecting scrap bio-metal… Shame you can’t buy it anymore.

In other news… ‘Manhunt’ style killing led to the game selling out in most shops. ‘Ban these games’ says the facist Tory rag and the parents…. Yet according to the last sentence in this BBC audio report it was the 14 year old victim who owned a copy of Manhunt, not the 17 year perpetrator.

Games and violence have always been in the news. I’ve got a Commodore User magazine review from ’87 of Operation Wolf which was released a few months after the Hungerford Massacre. Op Wolf (a great game BTW) was the first game to feature a proper gun on the cabinet, and the reviewer noted then, that ‘in light of Hungerford’ questions might be raised about the game and violence.

The more things change eh?

Mac fans relive that ’93 feeling with Doom Legacy for OS X!

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
August 2004