Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Arkham City / Rocksteady Community Event

After spending the last few days feverishly tweeting code words from the Batman themed, Alfredatyourservice.co.uk,  I had given up hope of attending a special community event with the guys from Rocksteady. Although, I had managed to get myself a cool Batman suit for my Xbox Avatar... what do you think?

Anyway..  I had given up hope until, late Monday afternoon a tweet arrived saying "@Technoslash WINNER! please dm us your email address". Within seconds I had replied to the message, arranged time off and phoned Two Little Gamers HQ to inform them of my good luck.

So I set off this morning on the train to London. This gave me the first ever chance to play on my 3DS on the commute in. Results: Do not play Fifa 12 in 3D whilst standing on a moving train - It really screws your head.

Anyway I got off the train and took a quick walk down to Warner Bros HQ. to join the other lucky BatFans (sorry) and Sarah, the community manager for Rocksteady (and she of 62-hit combo fame from EG Expo).

The good news from the off was that there were cupcakes... and a bar!

Once we all took our seats in the screening room, where Arkham City was playing on a very large cinema screen, we were treated to an introduction to the Jokers Carnival map (only available at present at Tescos). We were going to be competing on this map for serious swag later on!

The premise of the map is that the Joker is throwing endless waves of thugs for you to pummel. The thugs get harder and stronger as you progress. To add a little more spice to the mix, you also only get two minutes to pummel them. The only way to increase your time is to gather points via your Freeflow combo, which builds up to 5 levels. By banking at the right time, you can get a score bonus and time added back onto the countdown timer.

The photo here shows the Level Bar build up on the right of the screen.

So, basically, this challenge map is the ass kicking equivalent of The Weakest Link. I did suggest to Rocksteady that they should approach the BBC to see if Anne Robinson would be up for this. Here's hoping!

After this taster, we went straight into a meeting of the staff members of Rocksteady who explained why they were there and their role in the studio and development process. Next, straight into really great and indepth Q&A sessions with the various departments. It truly was a fantastic insight into the whole development process. It was really great to see that after 4 years of working on Batman games, they were all so passionate about what they were doing and still psyched to be playing the fruits of their labour.

Also on offer outside of the screening room was the Cupcakes I mentioned before and Vodka flavored Ice lollies. This is where I realised that I had made a mistake... I had to go to work afterwards and couldn't sample all of the ice lollies. However, several demo rigs had been set-up so that we could get to grips with the Joker map and also get some time to chat to the developers, so I ignored the Vodka lollies and concentrated on geeking out on the demo rigs.

Practice makes perfect right?... wrong! My practice session saw me getting consistently worse. The chances of me getting up in front of a small cinema of gaming super heroes was looking less and less likely. Thankfully though I took comfort from the stories from Higgins, one of Rocksteady's internal QA testers. He was only able to score over a million on the Joker map once out of every five goes and his high score was only FOUR MILLION! Gulp!

Before the big competition commenced, there was an awesome Q and A session on the opening sequence for Arkham City and the process of creating the flow of it and also some of things I had missed first time around, like this guy watching from the rooftops as you enter Arkham City.

Finally though, the time came to fight it out for the three Collectors Editions for the three highest scores. After the initial few people had more than proved themselves, I actually took to the stage and selected Robin and gave it a go. I got around 11,500 before Robin croaked and I got some swag for my effort -  The Arkham City soundtrack. I knew some of the bands on it as well!, so I must still be cool and down with the kids!!

All in all, a great day, great people and a great community! Huge thanks to @rocksteadygames and @rikkusarah for organising such a fantastic event and I look forward to the event for Batman: Arkham ???

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