Thursday, 15 August 2013

Grand Theft Auto Online Reveal

Launches October 1st

GTA V is set to drop in just over a month. However, today Rockstar Games revealed an ambitious online multiplayer suite to accompany one of the biggest GTA games ever made. It is important to note that GTA Online will be “delivered” on October 1st, access being free with every retail copy of the game.

"Grand Theft Auto Online is a dynamic and persistent online world for 16 players that begins by sharing gameplay features, geography and mechanics with Grand Theft Auto V, but will continue to expand and evolve after its launch with new content created by Rockstar Games and the Grand Theft Auto community"

GTA Online sounds and looks like an MMO. The trailer opens up promising a living, persistent online world that dynamically changes and will be continually supported post launch by Rockstar. Throughout the short video we can see instances of new characters (with voiced dialogue) offering missions to be taken to earn currency.

Currency in GTA Online allows you to customise your created character, buying clothes and accessories as you would in a usual single player experience. Earn enough currency and you'll be able to buy property (with the ability to show it off to your friends) opening up the possibilities for co-op hideouts. Or, if you'd like, you can buy vehicles (cars, boats and aircraft) to customise and race.

What would you need a hideout for? Well, GTA Online's open world allows you to join up with friends to take on bank heists and armed robbery, with each of you working together to get away with the loot.

Not in the mood to rob a bank? Well you can compete with friends in the various side games GTA V boasts, including tennis and golf, or in classic online death match modes.

GTA Online also comes packed with a content creator allowing you to create custom races (setting a course in the huge world map) and death matches (altering the allowed map space and weapon/vehicle spawns).

It looks as if Rockstar has learned from their online offerings in GTA, Max Payne and Red Dead Redemption to create a refined and cohesive open world experience. GTA 4 allowed players to connect and take part in missions together in Liberty City. Red Dead Redemption blew open the doors and allowed players to interact and play in a huge open world cooperatively, competitively or both at the same time. Max Payne 3 introduced tight third person shooter controls and systems that were previously lacking in Rockstar games. GTA Online is the culmination of Rockstar's work this generation.

I just can't believe how robust it is considering the size of the single player portion of the game. Rockstar North President Leslie Benzies stressed that it's "a different entity, a separate thing, and it'll grow on its own. It'll be GTA Online; it's not part of GTA V. Obviously it's set in the GTA V engine, but it's going to grow and evolve into its own thing." 

GTA V releases on the 17th September 2013 here in Europe with, as noted above, GTA Online coming around two weeks later.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

5 Reasons why I didn't study Chemistry

As much as this blog is a place to show case some of my work and to write about the things that I might be watching or playing, I guess it can also be a place for some readers to get to know me. I'd rather my personality shine through my writing but from time to time a post like this can't hurt right? Right? Is it hurting you yet?

I'm not going to go for an obvious list of facts about me, if you follow me on Twitter you might see some fun facts from time to time (Fun Fact: There are fun facts in this post). Rather I wanted to keep things writing focused and maybe answer a question people often wonder when they get to know me or what I studied.

Maybe it's an Indian thing, but people often look at me with a weird quizzical look on their face when I tell them I studied English Language and Literature with Creative Writing. Today the shop keeper next door looked at me like I’d said the wrong subject and asked “are you sure it wasn't Chemistry?”

No, Mrs. Hayre, it wasn't Chemistry. I enjoyed Chemistry in school and before dropping out of college, it was one of my chosen A-Levels, but I never really loved it. I love writing and there's been a few influences in my life to bring that along. Here are a few of them:

#5: Goosebumps

In, I guess I want to say, 1994 my parents began to buy me Goosebumps books and they blew me away. I had been a casual reader before Goosebumps but once I got started on R.L Stine's mega series of horror stories I was hooked. I devoured these. I distinctly remember one week over the summer holidays where I convinced my mum to buy me three. I just ploughed through them. “Welcome to Dead House”, “Return of the Mummy”, “The Cuckoo Clock of Doom” and “Say Cheese and Die – Again!” were just some of the titles that defined my childhood. I remember one day when I was trapped on a coach going down to a wedding and at the services I convinced my dad to buy me a Goosebumps book. I destroyed “It Came From Beneath the Sink” in a matter of hours, before we'd even reached the venue. I was hungry for more, my imagination began to run wild.

(Fun Fact: When I was younger I wrote a short story where Jack the Ripper's brother stalked someone and was ultimately stabbed in a corner shop by the clerk. Maybe i'll post it one day)

#4: Max Payne

Along with reading, gaming was one of the key staples of my childhood. These started with games like Sonic and Alex the Kidd or Sensible Soccer and Sim City on my cousin's PC (when she let me on!). It wasn't I was introduced to Max Payne that I started to pay attention to the medium as a way to tell stories. The story in Max Payne is nothing to scream and shout about but the combination of interactivity and quality voice acting really pulled me in. Here was a bad ass character who was out for revenge, who narrated the entire game with a grisly film noire performance and could slow down time before the Matrix came out. I was in.

Max Payne really opened my eyes to the different forms of story telling and how powerful an emotional connection and interactivity were to a narrative experience.

(Fun Fact: As a child I wanted to be a wrestler when I grew up!)

#3: Wrestling

Wrestling was big in my family growing up. I was a Hulk-a-maniac and loved Macho Man. I moved on to Bret “The Hitman” Hart and then started chanting for Stone Cold Steve Austin. Yes, they have story lines in wrestling but it wasn't the cheesy plots that caught my eye.

Whatcha gonna do!?
It was more the match psychology and the art of wrestling itself. The more I paid attention to it the more I realised that the actual match had a story and it was told through mannerisms, moves and holds. Often they were typical under dog stories where the bad guy beats up the good guy before he ultimately comes back to win. But ever now and then there was something special. Like Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels in an Iron Man Match. The match went on for over an hour and the story they told was something that I had never seen before. Neither one wanted to give up and it was just compelling. Utterly compelling.

And yes, I know it's “fake”.

(Fun Fact: My favourite scent/smell is Vanilla)

#2: Ridley Scott

Being a big film nut, I watch my fair share of them. Ridley Scott is one particular director that I just have an affinity for. His work always enthrals me and captures my imagination. While I know he doesn't write the films himself, the way he cobbles them together never fails to inspire me.

It could be a simple shot of Russell Crowe riding into battle. Shot from a distance and static it would be bland and uninspiring but shot from a shaking steady cam, close up on his face and it becomes something else entirely. The amount of depth and reality he puts into his worlds just make me want to do this all the more. I want to do this for other people. I want to give other people an experience so tangible that they're lost for however long it is.

(Fun Fact: If I won the lottery I would make sure key members of my family and I were settled and secure. Then I would use the rest to make a school in an underprivileged area of the world so that children there could learn to read and write. Who knows they might write stories of their own)

#1: Lost

It's an odd one to put on the list but it's honestly the truth. Lost, the TV show, is one of the biggest components of why I decided to really start writing. Up until then I just had an interest in it. This show made me act on it. I can hear you saying it's just an underwhelming TV show but Lost is, I guess, special to me.

It came on during a period in my life where a lot was changing but no matter what went wrong or suddenly became different, I had Lost. Every week I would sit down to a new episode and some of the themes applied to me somewhat. Yes it had it's ups and downs but I became wholly invested in a set of characters and I was on the ride from start to finish. I loved every second of it.

Sawyer's mantra of “what's done is done (Freckles)” allowed me to move on from whatever it was that was getting me down and dragging me away from life. Normally I don't become so invested in a TV show. I enjoy many TV shows these days but I don't take life advice from Walter White (that you know of at least...).

It was just the perfect storm of personal problems and escapism really. Escapism is one of the big reasons why we consume any form of entertainment isn't it? I hope to do the same for someone else.

(Fun Fact: People often told me i'd never amount to anything)

So there you go, Mrs. Hayre. Now you know why. 

Hope you enjoyed it.