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The gadget show live returned to the NEC for 2016 and I received tickets and decided to take an unofficial review of the event along with trying a more on the go style of recording footage.

This year there were a number of record breaking attempts along with the usual gadget show live experience, and the plethora of stalls with all of your gadgety needs available to purchase. New to this year however there was also a yogscast special event, which it was lead to believe would be through the friday ticket but turned out to require it’s own ticket so while I would have attended it seemed I was unable to as a result of the ticket type I had been provided.

There were some new games on show and available to play both in regular form as well as a variety of 3d methods ranging from simple headsets utilizing your smartphone, through a unidirectional treadmill used to traverse a van gogh experience to the advanced 3d experience of the vive which allows you to interact while moving fully around your own room. I did have a press session with esper2 booked which I will be bringing you a review of separately later.

There were some other interesting events going on around the hall with a “robot wars” clone with competition to pit the other competitors as opposed to dismembering their robots.

I felt there weren’t as many items which were featured on the show to see around the halls and it felt simply like an excuse to sell gadgets, even if it was a range of products which had been tested during john bentleys trials it would have been something more associated with the show. There were some unique things available to buy such as getting your own 3d printed model made at the show however this would really be something to know in advance so you can ensure you would look as you wish for the model whereas if you show up not ready for a model then you’re not going to wish to purchase one as they aren’t inexpensive.

Previous years had featured a chance to queue to get something signed by the gadget show crew however this year there was no such stall, as I had stated in previous years the security had been pretty terrible telling you not to queue early telling you to come back at X time then when you came back the queue was “full” so I missed out meeting the crew and getting things signed on my birthday because of that useless security guard ruining the day, so that get’s removed by removing the chance to get anything signed entirely but it also removes another step of the actual event being related to the gadget show as you would have to attend the live session in the hall with tickets to such in order to see the presenters whatsoever, while in the hall you could queue for the yogscast to meet them and have things signed it seemed more like the yogscast were the main draw for many attendees on the day I visited.

The day was enjoyable and if you wanted to attend it would be recommended that you purchase the supertheatre tickets in order to get your moneys-worth out of the experience, other previous benefits have included discounts on products for show attendees and special competitions which only attendees could participate in, there were very few of these with most stalls being full retail and offering little in special variety or discount over online purchase, but most of the stalls were things to participate in with the likes of the gaming section, and a very large creativity section encouraging youngsters to learn about engineering and creativity through paperwork, and another large section with driving experiences from learning to drive and be driven in a small circle in a tesla motor car, for a ridiculously long queue and a rather fun remote controlled vehicle race section with prizes, unfortunately I played in the session directly after the finals for that day and won my race which would have placed me in the finals to win the trophy had I been able to play and it would have been good to try out for the trophy but I played too late.

I felt something was lacking during the experience and it was hard to put my finger on exactly what was wrong, but I think there was a distinct lack of upcoming technology or anything particularly special, sure there were a lot of vr experiences but it seemed that the show had been downgraded for a much younger audience as opposed to providing a variety of products to try and buy, also looking for active noise cancelling headphones in any of the audio sections proved rather difficult and I was only able to find one pair at a ridiculously expensive price, however this provides ample ground to learn for next year’s event, to provide a wider range of products, more from the show, and perhaps a better chance to interact with the presenters on the show floor, as they would be the main draw for any attendee.

Check out the gadget show live website for more details about upcoming events www.gadgetshowlive.net

Insomnia LAN Gaming Festival returned for it’s 56th incarnation at the NEC in Birmingham for the first time through the 11th-14th of December. Established as the uk’s biggest gaming festival many attend for the tournaments and social LAN gaming elements, but many do not realize that there is also a gaming expo associated with the event.

The expo hall had a good variety of content, from an indie games section, more established franchises like dark souls and halo, as well as competitive zones for those who didn’t bring their own computers such as the smash bro’s and minecraft zones. On top of this there were two main stages featuring a plethora of youtube and gaming personalities over the weeekend as well as a cosplay section showcasing various tools of the trade with cosplayers available for advice and tutorials.

I visited on the friday so unfortunately was not able to delve into the main competitions and talk to those taking part as these had not yet began, but I did get a glimpse of the true silver champion hearthstone trophy which was very impressive indeed, so much that I would consider beginning playing so as to get the possibility to win such a trophy someday.

Comparing the expo to EGX the hall is smaller, as EGX spread through 3 halls and this event was contained to one, with a seperate hall for the LAN arena and another for tents (it is a true festival after all, and does not require you to purchase a hotel, although camp fires would not be advised nor barbeques unless you wished to take them outside onto the car park. Saying this at one third of the size the number of visitors and the queue sizes were significantly smaller, this lead to a more chilled and relaxed atmosphere, attendants were accustomed to the friendly and social aspect of LAN gaming and the event, so when there were queue’s these were very small; literally waiting for the current time period to finish then play. While waiting in any queue everyone struck up conversations with each other and the entire event was very chilled out, much like the ice and winter theme of the expo.

While at the event I decided to take part in the super smash bro’s tournament mostly because I was asked by the pretty lady on the stall and I figured why not, I got through a couple of rounds but ultimately failed by picking little mac and flailing off the edge in over ambitious attacks attempting to counter my opponents ryu game where he could be hit blazing to the edge and off the screen yet still come back, so verticallity for victory seemed ideal with a well timed uppercut. For the most part we tied on percentages and I only failed by my own ineptitude.

There were a number of stalls to purchase all sorts of geeky goodies too, from plushies to t-shirts and even knitted winter jumpers with geeky styles. And for the dedicated gamers there was a GAME stand selling not only electronics you may require for the lan (new keyboards, mice etc should yours break) but also some discounted special edition games and even tickets to the next insomnia festival at a discounted rate.

Some of the indie games I will attempt to bring to you on the main gaming channel with their own reviews, still awaiting confirmation. One game I wouldn’t be able to but was fun was a game called unbox, taking the irony of “unboxing” to a new level you play as a cardboard box in a variety of mini games from races to downright elimination of the other cardboard companions. The game was very fun however the local multiplayer only element of the game may make this difficult for some, and would be the reason I couldn’t take it on at present, perhaps I should’ve asked to record at the event gameplay as the games were very fun and I enjoyed playing with who I presume was the developer of the game and would recommend a purchase should you be able to get people together to play.

The latest halo game was also available to play with an ironic queue for photographs with two spartans yet no queue for the main game itself, a little out of practice the level of the demo threw a horde of enemies upon you with very powerful tank like minions who could down you in one go and your AI companions would then rush in to pick you up getting downed themselves proving a rather difficult challenge indeed, at least I assumed they were AI the potential is that they were interconnected machines and it was the other demo participants also getting downed by the fiend either way it shows that halo is not a casual shooter in any respect (at least on the difficulty the machines were set to)

From this I went on to play dark souls 3, noticing the demo at present lacks any leveling system as I rested at the campfire after dispatching a few enemies hoping to up my defense a little due to the difficulty of some of the enemies. I notice that things are a lot more linear in this incarnation of the franchise, not to state that there aren’t other paths as there were two distinct ways to progress interwoven through the level, I focused on taking down the extra tough minion up the stairs on the left who seemed to raise the dead as he was tougher than the other enemies hoping to get some decent loot but alas to no avail, from this I progressed the main way finding secret windows to progress through leading down to the dragon. The dragon was very apt at setting fire to your path if you didn’t use cunning, it is entirely possible to chug estus constantly and rush through it however the smart amongst you would note that you could taunt the dragon to go one path then double back up to his origonal position and through the safety of the building before the next area you would require to race the flame once more. Having spent my time exploring and trying different things and paths I ran out of playtime unfortunately, but would hope to be able to bring a demo play to you should I be able to get hold of a copy.

Other experiences around the event included a racing simulator which you had to pay £5 for, which unsurprisingly remained unused considering people had paid to enter the event such a game was not very well received, especially as another driving game with steering wheel and (loose floppy) pedals was available for free in the center of the event. Also there were a few 3d experiences, knowing that I missed out the vive at EGX I immediately signed up and got to play on this, where the games were very impressive, there was an underwater experience watching a whale get close, a 3D drawing game where of course you have to draw something of an immature and penile nature… In 3D! then the real games began and there was a 3D western zombie shooter which I unfortunately forget the name of but was very fun and showed just how responsive and accurate the controls were, and of course I completed it flawlessly! Finally there was an aperture science 3d experience with GLaDos and the co-op robots which contained the usual portal humour but also some intimidation with GLaDos towering over you, and the floor beneath you giving way before finally you get crushed out of existence. The vive will be coming soon with development kits going out in january, and an estimated release around april. You can find more details at www.htcvr.com and I would love to bring more should HTC desire to send me a version and some demo’s ;-)

The vive was very much off the rails, so you were’nt constrained to following a set path or a rollercoaster as many existing 3D experiences tend to be, you were free to move around fully up to virtual walls, which represent by honeycomb shapes when you get too close (imagine a star trek holodeck saying hey the wall’s here don’t walk into me) and I can imagine the software and games developed for such a system could be very inspirational indeed.

There was also a Merge VR for the lower budget which converts Iphone’s into a 3d Experience, obviously lacking compared to the vive as there aren’t the handheld controllers which get sensed regardless of where you leave them, and lacks the native room based intelligence, but was a reasonable on the rails experience.

The final main game I played was battleborn which is an online first person shooting moba style game, with a variety of champions to choose from and an in game leveling system to keep ahead of the competition. Playing the game it was very fun and seemed promising, currently in beta I would have to keep up to date to see how things progress and hope that the game doesn’t get a toxic community like super monday night combat did as a game like this is very dependent upon the community and I would hope it would remain fun and fair.

There were a number of giveaways at the event itself, along with freebies to collect. One competition I took part in was with #gamestate a unique game development method where the game will entirely be designed as to the whim’s of the website’s members giving everything a choice and open to forum suggestions. I took part in the competition because I was told that the prize was a cap, a pair of headphones and a rugged looking backpack, all on display at the event and needing a new set of headphones which were decent I decided to enter. I sat around during the drawing process where a few names were selected but as they were not there to claim prizes these got dismissed, finally they narrowed it to the three of us that were there and my name was selected, I got excited thinking I would be getting all of the prizes but instead was given the snapback hat with blocks to put on it, the only thing I wouldn’t ever use. Being a community based game design where the users get a choice if you ignore the fact that I was mislead to believe that all of the items were the prize I would have chosen either the headphones or the rugged backpack, both of which I would use constantly as I carry a backpack everywhere and a rugged strong one would be very useful, and the headphones would be good for recording and playing games, the cap I would never wear as it is not my style let alone the childish brick part of the cap. So sadly although I won this was very dissappointing.

Other freebies I received included the battleborn t-shirt, a sonic hat which I am more likely to wear as a novelty than the stupid cap, and some in game dlc. I’m sure there would have been more freebies on offer but I don’t tend to ask but when provided I happily accept.

The expo also had two stages which a variety of content could be seen throughout the show, from competitive gameplay to youtubers putting on a live “lets play” and even talk panel shows with live audience Q&A sessions. I sat down and watched gassy mexican and daithidenogla play a couple of sessions of keep talking and nobody explodes, as a live setting it was very interesting to see them shouting instructions across the stage from each other in an attempt to diffuse the bomb, both having their own style of play, gassy listening to daithi but ultimately never having played before not knowing in some of the more difficult puzzles what was required due to unclear instruction, and daithi’s style on the bomb was to often ignore gassy and just panic cutting wires and exploding the bomb immediately. As this was a live show it would have added further entertainment if there was a penalty for exploding the bomb (like a water bomb to the face or something) but either way was very entertaining to watch.

Ultimately as a comparison on an expo level I would recommend visiting I56 for the shorter queue’s (and often non existent queue’s) and for the more relaxed atmosphere, perhaps taking advantage of the indie games at EGX and saving the hefty queue’d games for a visit to I56 where you could play the titles such as rise of the tomb raider, halo, assassins creed syndiccate etc with absolutely no queue where at EGX the wait time had been in the 1 hour plus frame. Furthermore if you wanted to get really social and play in the lan tournaments you should definitely get a BYOC ticket and camp at the event in style (or at least your tent) I would say if you’re a gamer you should check out an insomnia event for yourself and get the full experience.

The next insomnia will be held 25th to 28th of march with full details at insomniagamingfestival.com whether you choose to only visit the expo or take part in the lan gaming festival you won’t regret your visit.

The Insomnia gaming festival returns this weekend with I56, renowned for its 24 hour lan gaming competitions and E sports you might want to plan your sleeping schedule to at least get a little sleep over the 3 days if you plan to attend.

With a convention showing featuring playable games and talks from game developers, sessions and talk panels with youtubers, and the well known BYOC (bring your own computer/console) tournaments there is a little something for every gamer here.

The known playable games are as follows:
· City of the Shroud, Abyssal Arts
· DiscStorm, XMPT Games
· Flight of Light, Crystalline Green Ltd.
· Gang Beasts, Boneloaf
· GRIP, Caged Element
· Havenrise, Pixel Balloon
· Help: Real War is Not a Game, Sheena Bourke (War Child)
· Jump Stars, Pixel Blimp
· Lifespeed, Wee Man Studios
· Natures Zombie Apocalypse, Aniode
· Networm , Cuddly Zombie Games
· Perpetual Night, Studio Genkan
· Spectra, Gateway Interactive
· Super Rude Bear Resurrection, Alex Rose Games
· The Mists of Audazzle, Audazzle
· Cuphead, Studio MDHR
· SUPERHOT, Superhot.
· Aaero, Mad Fellows
· Beyond Flesh and Blood, Pixel Bomb
· Gear Gauntlet, Drop Dead Interactive
· Jump Stars, Pixel Blimp
· Kingdom, Noio and Licorice & Raw Fury
· Raging Justice, Makin Games
· Spectra, Gateway Interactive
· Super Dungeon Bros, Wired Productions & React Games
· Unbox, Prospect Games
· ElemenTales, Total Monkery
· Kaiju Panic, Mechabit
· Pure Space, Gateway Interactive

I will be attending the event and giving you more information about what is available and what you could see on the friday, but for now I would suggest if you’re into gaming and wish to take part in the competitions or even play any of the games listed you should definitely attend.

There are still details yet to be confirmed including evening entertainment, but if you wish to find out more and see a full list of youtubers you can see around the event and holding panels check out the insomnia website for full details.

Get your tickets to insomia now while you still can. http://insomniagamingfestival.com

Firstly I must apologize for the quality of the video, the poor lighting required me to up the brightness so things are visible which has caused everything to become rather pixelated like a computer game, and the audio has an echo due to the noise removal technique and amplification required to eliminated the crowd noises, which is why when I am not directly facing the camera some of my audio becomes non existent.

Guitar hero live is a change in direction for the usually cartoon sprite based game, where instead of watching computer characters perform on stage in the background while you play along to the tune instead behind the familiar riff line is a live stage and support band who react based upon how well you are playing the track.

Other significant changes to the game are the actual way you play, which involves a dual 3 button strip with black and white controls, helpfully hinted at on screen with up and down buttons om case you forget which side is which. With a little adapting this seems a lot easier to use than the 5 button system, so even though you are essentially playing with extra buttons this will feel like less.

I do like the new style and the new opportunities it could provide but I think they really missed out by not having a full 8 button swing to utilize all 4 fingers, or even having the duplicated 5 buttons players will be use to but with a dual line system in place allowing for some very difficult routines to be established. Gone is however the tap strumming bar some players will have adapted to which provided a fun way of playing the game along with extra manipulation of the sounds, and activating star power becomes more difficult with the higher positioning of the buttons on the neck of the controller. Sure there is a button to activate star power but this is never the most effective way to use the power, and it isn’t in a convenient location.

Further changes to the game are the facts that it is planned that any further releases will not require a purchase of another game and instead will come as purchasable or rent-able content providing access to any new tunes in a variety of genre’s for example without having to purchase a “Metallica” special guitar hero game. Also for those who wish to compete live there will be a guitar hero live channel where people at home can play along with other players worldwide on the same live track, at present there have been no plans to include a live leaderboard however I think this would be the ideal social situation to provide live results for all players partaking in the live track and provide the ultimate bragging rights topping the live leaderboard broadcast to everyone currently watching that channel.

The game itself will have made up bands playing actual songs so you will always feel like part of the band, and the audience will react to your playing prowess, if you’re doing well they will cheer for more whilst terrible play will result in objects being thrown at you as you play with boo’s and jeers.

I think this is an interesting direction and some good improvements to the genre as actually feeling like you’re on stage and playing adds to the immersion of the game, perhaps having a more transparent riff bar could make things better as the audience and band are obscured a lot of the time.

Little is known about the competitive aspects of the game as yet, as often the same track gets chosen in competitions where the longest possible track provides the best score and is repeated by every single team, a change to this system competitively might make things more fun, perhaps requiring a mini set of 3 short songs to feel more like a proper band and completely eliminating all ridiculously long songs from competitions, or even having all songs have a similar point limit perhaps boosted with freestyle flourishes enabled via star power at the appropriate times, I have no idea how star power works in the game as I could not get the controller to trigger this despite vertically lifting the guitar at any time.

Another interesting aspect for scoring might be if the accelerometers in the controller responded to how you flourished and moved about on stage to incorporate “stage presence” into the scoring system to provide those truly representing on stage and not just playing the tunes the biggest and best scores, but this could always be something to consider for future releases.

As it stands I would definitely recommend a purchase for any guitar hero fan as all of the changes are definitive improvements and go beyond simply releasing further tracks with a whole new play style to master.

Follow updates at www.guitarhero.com

Day one of EGX 2015 drew to a close, after a long wait at the early entry queue while a video played we eventually got onto the show to have quick look around before I had a day of booked up sessions with developers and press, many of who’m have stated that they will send screenshots and game codes, but obviously not in time for such a quick article as this. I will be focusing on a few of them in detail either in the main article or in their own separate game-play and review articles as necessary.

I started off the show having a play on the upcoming rock band, which I will go into detail more about in the later video. Sufficed to say it is a fun experience and quite easy to grasp the new 6 key system, although a few changes to the controller itself will be missed such as the strum board, and the gimmick of playing live on stage is a much better on screen experience than the usual cartoonish feel of the game.

After this I hit up the playstation and xbox one zones, checking out what they individually had to offer. The xbox area was spread out with separate queue’s for each section and a collectors card system to win a prize if you can play in all segments much like playstation had the previous year. While the playstation zone was very different having a sealed section with queue’s for the games side by side and a few set props visitors could pose for photo’s with.

I had a little time to check out the latest assassins creed, where I decided to try and do everything within the mission parameters within the time limit, failing as I seemed to despawn one of the allies I had and spending far too long attempting to track down his location, even with eagle eye highlighting character locations this proved impossible. The mechanic to essentially zip line between locations made traversing without getting spotted pretty much a predetermined fact, however when it came to the actual free running element I found that you were often stopping where you expected the character to jump off the small ledge as the system appears to have been adapted in a manner that jumping from ledges is not permitted whether you would take damage or not, and jumping while free running is entirely impossible.

This method doesn’t feel as satisfying and correct as previous games, and sometimes when you come to the end of a path you’re running through you find you end up jumping to the side or a path you never intended to and have to go out of your way to get back down to the floor. Other than these factors though the game felt smooth and like a typical assassins creed game, hard to see what other new mechanics there are by such a short demonstration.

I arrived early to the press zone so took the opportunity to watch the latest hitman footage, where it is stated you will travel in varying locations across the world taking out hits on characters in any way you see fit, with a variety of methods depending on your stealth, cunning, patience and exploration of the level you can execute each hit a significant number of different methods, from straight hit and run to downright perfect execution planting c4 on the stage-lights and influencing factors to get the target in question onto the stage to fall victim of a “tragic accident” while you’re in the crowd where it couldn’t possibly be you that caused his death. The developers want you to feel powerful as agent 47 able to use disguises to gain entrance to different area’s and only area’s established for the specific uniforms and that you could essentially roleplay as each of those for as long as you aren’t discovered. A good feature is that the supervisor (or gang leader, or whatever is relevant) of the particular group you’re dressed up as gets highlighted on the map, so you can be sure to avoid that particular person as they will be able to instantly identify you as incorrect knowing all of their staff. It isn’t clear if you can become said leader by using their uniform as yet.

After this I spent the entire day in pre-booked sessions, starting out by playing a press competition of eternal step, a game I will be looking forward to showing you separately, an action rogue-like where you collect treasure cards which you use at the end of each floor to discard or modify your equipment in order to progress as far as possible before inevitable failure (or possibly success when the game is completed and has an ending.) The game is very fun and can get very challenging when you’re running low on hp with no potions, I made it to the first boss on floor 20 before inevitably failing, but I did set the record where other press have only managed around floor 11 and 12 at most.

The rest of the day was spent around the indie gaming section playing on sublevel zero which I had to get out there as involved in the team is phi from tinykeep, and the game itself is a challenging homage to decent with additional elements such as crafting your weapons and modifying your ship as it stands it is a very difficult game with sprawling procedurally generated worlds.

After this I played a space station management sim which I proceeded to break and another point and click adventure which again broke, don’t forget that a lot of these games are early in development and not fully finished so you can expect all of these issues to be resolved upon full release, after this I had a session with riot: civil unrest which was an interesting riot simulator which rather ambitiously provides each individual crowd member with their own ai and adaptive ai which responds to how you have acted throughout the game, so crowds get more frenzied if your police force are heavy handed and have a bad reputation, but also adapt to how they have individually been treated so at this state it currently allows for around 10 minutes of playtime before the game crashes, this will be fixed in time for a full release and additional factors such as vehicles and more gameplay modes will be activated but it is definitely an interesting concept to keep an eye out for, which I shall hopefully bring you more on as it progresses.

After this I had a session booked with pollen, a space simulator in virtual reality on a station on a moon on titan, however as the queue’s were busy I only got to play for 5 minutes before being ushered off despite booking a session which was said to last for 30 minutes in the email so I cannot tell you much about the game itself unfortunately, I have emailed the developer but have yet to receive a response.

I’m not sure if I covered this in the video but I did get to play on rise of the tomb raider at the end as well, when I had a problem attempting to leave the first area I had to ask for help, because it had not been tutorialised that you needed to shoot blocks of concrete to destroy them on spikes, which appeared to be the largest unbreakable part so even with experimenting I shot at the cracked wood, the thin pillar it was attached to and everything but the large and in reality least likely to break part of the blockage.

The representative stated that they wanted to have a more “dark souls” experience not providing any information to the player, however this seemed a major blockage not only to progress but attempting to enjoy the demo. Thankfully after this I was able to progress and even found for myself a hint button essentially listening to lara’s heart (as it beat a heart while giving a slight hint to the solution highlighted with a vocal cue) however the platforming elements proved very awkward, as many of the scenery elements which were climbable looked identical to those which you could never climb, and a lot of the action came down to quicktime events rather than actual fun gameplay elements. I had hoped this would be a return to more of the original tomb raider elements however I was left disappointed simply with the way the platforming and navigation of the rooms worked, being unable to climb onto pillars and surfaces that were completely reachable, not being able to climb the same ribbed wall as you climb elsewhere just because that isn’t the path to progress, and ultimately black screening the game as perhaps I passed the time limit being stuck in the first room for 5 minutes before asking for help because the very factor to destroy the blockage was never tutorialised or hinted at.

On the way out of the show with things closing I managed to get a quick play on total war arena, which if you enjoy the total war franchise is a much simplified version of the game, with point and click ordering of troops, activatable powers and real time online multiplayer in 10vs10 action. Troop customization and leveling occurs outside of the actual gameplay to make combat quick and fun with no pausing or problems and meaning that real time adjustments to all of your troops in a quick and efficient manner is a must.

I will have a much more in depth review of the actual show in a separate article and a few of the games I will be able to bring to you in much more detail in their own reviews also, so watch this space for more.

With EGX 2015 literally around the corner I thought it was a good idea to post about some of the latest game announcements, and the newly announced after show parties on friday and saturday night while tickets are still available (but running out fast)

Firstly if you’re interested in getting in on the after parties you will need to buy a special ticket, ordinary entry will not work and you could get party entry even if you don’t have an egx ticket as it is its own thing, tickets are available now at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/egx-2015-community-party-tickets-18468815725 Note that these parties run at the same time as the yogscast sessions, so you will have to choose between them or be very late to the party ;-) I will be attending the saturday party personally for anyone wishing to find me at the event.

Wait you want some information about the parties? Well there will be drinking, gaming and chances to meet both game devs and youtubers in a friendly social climate. Games available to play at the party will be gang beasts, rocket league, WiFi wars, rock band 4 and even napoleon dynamite dancing! So there will be plenty of fun to be had, and probably some really embarrassing and bad dance moves and singing across the stages (with possibly some greatness, you know how these things are you get both the great and the bad)

New announcements for the xbox and nintendo stands include Halo 5, Star Fox Zero, Forza 6, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Xenoblade Chronicles X, The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes and over 30 more games. My email didn’t differentiate which would be on which stand but zelda, star fox and tri force heroes are clearly nintendo offerings, and a number of these are games I would be very interested in bringing coverage for.

Playstation have a number of more well known releases including Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Destiny: The Taken King, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and 25 more massive games, it is hard to say which console are championing the indie releases here as previously playstation had pointed out this would be a ps4 major selling point, so I will look and see who covers the most and best indie titles at the event.

Sony do have “project morpheus” at the event “playable” however it seems that although the site was launched live today at 1pm, the site never worked correctly for windows 7 either with the latest microsoft windows nor google chrome, and although I could get to stage 2 of booking no time slots ever appeared, then later it states that all slots have been booked, so if you were looking forward to playing it appears that only booked slots allowed you to gain access and these have all been claimed for the entire weekend, and with how fast these slots were filled I can imagine there is a lot of disappointment going around.

Don’t forget that there are over 300 screens of playable indie games, cosplay events, competitions, esports finals with large prize pots, and great opportunities to socialize, buy merchandise, and even get advice on getting a career within the gaming industry all within the event.

Don’t forget to claim your free game of orbital gear from bundlestars just for purchasing an egx ticket, as every ticket holder gets the game.

I have arranged some sessions with developers, including eternal step a game which won’t be available for public play but I will bring you details of, sublevel zero, riot civil unrest, and pollen. I will attempt to get some extra sessions planned and hopefully some more VR titles from the different hardwares.

If you would like to arrange a session with me get in touch, and if there are any particular games you would like me to ensure I cover do be sure to let me know.

So with Eurogamer Expo literally next week be sure to grab your tickets, Last Tickets to EGX itself are running very low so don’t miss out https://www.egx.net/egx/tickets

This year I worked at Reading festival as opposed to leeds with the R&L2015 events, which meant not only different managers to I usually work for at barcode but also the staff I normally work with and a friend I got to signup to work at the events were all at leeds and I was on my own down in reading, and immediately it was noticeable just how different things were at reading compared to leeds.

The staff campsite for reading festival was located a good 40 minutes walk (and more if security were being pains not letting you walk down the exit to our campsite claiming it was for use by “emergency services only” as it was behind an emergency exit gate, luckily I was able to get out of the next emergency exit gate and use that path as opposed to the 1.5 hour walk it would be from the main exit, having walked that way on the thursday before working I knew just how far it was away. The main reason for the extra distance was that this is located pretty much inside reading city center itself as opposed to off in a field near to the town and a short bus journey away as most festivals tend to be. The staff campsite itself was located in a small football field just outside of the site, surrounded by barbed wire and concrete fences it definitely felt a little like Auschwitz with the confinement and having to line up our tents around the edge of the pitch where there was barely enough room for tents, this lead to rather cold nights without the usual guarantee of being surrounded by other tents to break the wind.

Of course I was one of the lucky few to actually take the staff boat in the morning, eliminating the long walk to the main bar, but this meant setting out early in order to catch said boat and as a result missing out on taking a shower before shifts, which were 12-15 hours depending on which bar you were set on, and with management not showing up on time the last night meant many staff were either late or missed out on lunch entirely, which despite arranging with the burger van (who held the lunches but could not release them to any staff without the manager) promising to ensure I got one, taking my name and bar number, I didn’t get a lunchpack.

The problems with the meals didn’t end there with dinner the first night being simply a burger with having my token taken at a stand which were rather stingy, thankfully this wasn’t a single stand deal like at V and using it at the pizza vendor the other nights meant a more reasonable dinner.

The event itself was actually a good atmosphere with good music, and people could get a good view of the stage without it getting really cramped, crowds maintained a fairly reasonable level even during the main acts so anyone could get a good view, and with the smaller stages there was always a small number of people watching, which also meant when I went to see black honey perform as promised I got to be right at the front despite only being out for my break to see them, and I got noticed being there by izzy who put on a really good performance.

There were a few covers performed at the festival, with limp bizkit obviously performing their usual repertoire of covers including killing in the name of which obviously goes down well, and panic! at the disco performed a really good cover of bohemian rhapsody, which made me wonder for a few seconds if queen were on stage (in their current lineup) there may have been more I wasn’t able to hear but I’m sure festival goers got their money’s worth out of the performances, not only with the live acts but also the special covers you don’t get to hear elsewhere.

Pete docherty was looking a little worse for wares on his performance and even took a break during the set, but I’m not going to follow the usual media thing of sensationalizing this as who knows the reasons behind something as it could be anniversaries of special things with amy winehouse that the public wouldn’t be aware of making him sad for all anyone knows.

Anyway on to the management of my bar, it was very different to I have usually come to expect from barcode, with 3 managers on the bar, one of which constantly marched up and down the bar shouting demoralizing propaganda (for the first day, taking it easier but still doing this saturday and to a far lesser extent on the sunday) Another bar manager constantly telling you to put your hand up and call every single customer passing to you, despite the fact that they’re funneled out of the gate system in the middle of the bar (where I was working) and pass down to the far windows to be served by those doing far less work, and thus depriving those people of doing any work and working 6 times harder myself when I have already chosen to work in the main window in order to work harder and do not need constant pushing to work harder than possible and deprive others of doing any work.

On the final day things took a different turn, with my ankle injury playing up I started working less hard and instead of getting the constant stick I constantly got praise about how hard I was working and how good a job I was doing, this felt like it was rewarding slacking off and taking it easier working while the stick was demotivating those who were working hard feeling like slave labour whipped to their extreme and beyond.

I also heard that 13 people were fired from the main bar alone, with 2 stealing £5k and £2k respectively from the tills on the bar, others fired for not turning up on shift, some drinking the stock and others I couldn’t possibly know.

Either way it just felt a little extreme, so if you’re choosing to work definitely choose leeds, there the staff meals were better when I worked there with kebabalon providing tasty large kebab portions in meat, fish and vegetarian varieties, huge stonebaked pizza’s and a far better situated staff campsite 10 minutes away from the main bars (confirmed by other workers) the site itself is much better laid out and less cramped, and the usual norther hospitality, which especially if you’re from elsewhere in the country you get welcomed even further.

The music is good though and the event is good so if you’re going as a punter and want a convenient location, you could easily walk to a hotel or train nearby if you weren’t up for the field tenting experience, but if you had the option I would always choose leeds over reading personally having experienced both.

If you haven’t got your tickets for EGX 2015 at the NEC yet time’s running out as tickets are selling out fast, so be sure to head over before they run out. While you’re at it if you’re interested in attending a relaxed evening with the yogscast, there are two days of panels, each for £15 or £20 for both days, separate to main expo entry these are 2 hour long sessions of questions and gaming hosted by the yogscast, with team flux+ on friday being sjin, hannah, duncan and kim. And on the saturday evening it would be lewis and hat films (Ross, Trottimus and Al Smiffy)

https://www.egx.net/egx/tickets

Now onto the main event itself, if you’re not convinced to go purely for it being the main gaming convention in the uk being hosted at the NEC arena for convenience of location for the majority of the country, or the fact that you can get up close and personal with both developers and youtubers across four days, then lets get down to one of the biggest draws, the fact that there will be over 200 screens of playable games, featuring upcoming games such as homefront: The revolution, Assassins Creed Syndicate, Mirrors Edge Catalyst, Starwars Battlefront and many more.

One particular game you may wish to queue up for above all others would be the aseembly, being playable for the first ever time anywhere and being a virtual reality adventure game, which lets face it not everyone has a VR kit at home, this will be the opportunity to not only test the equipment out for yourself and experience whether you think this is the future of gaming, but also the fact that this is an adventure game rather than the usual fairground rides or on the rails stories VR tends to highlight, it would be interesting to see just how interactive the game would be and how far it pushes the technology forward.

While you’re there don’t forget to visit the rezzed zone too, filled with a variety of indie games, some you may know well such as speedrunners, and project zomboid, but also a chance to discover new indie games you will have yet to hear from, all being shown off by the development team themselves providing the best opportunity to ask them about the games and see the future plans of the development teams. If you’re after a break from the screen you can always chill out over some board games for some classic and tactile gaming.

If you’re not just there to play the games, chill out in the retro zone with some classic games such as megabomberman, or have a look at the leftfeild collection sponsored by sega, then there is even more on offer, not only the finals of a variety of competitive gaming tournaments which could be exciting to watch, there will be developer sessions where the big development teams will take to the stages to talk about the latest games and upcoming development plans, and don’t forget the usual plethora of cosplayers that will be around the event partaking in activities revolving around that and taking to the stage for judgement and even posing for pictures and to be drawn at times.

Finally for anyone wishing to enter the gaming industry there will be a career fair, providing the opportunity to speak to recruiters and get advice on how to develop your career within the gaming industry and a variety of career workshops based upon the gaming industry.

I will be attending the event and bringing you the latest from these games and more, so if there is anything in particular you would like me to cover be sure to let me know, and I will try to find you those hidden gems that might get missed by other people, and if you’re going yourself maybe I will see you there.

This is a lost episode due to issues with using the honestech software to capture not only my live review but the footage from the show istself, with the fact that it added artificial noise as well as losing the majority of my footage in the transfer process it lead to severe delays in release due to quality issues, also due to memory problems I appear to have had some rendering issues not correctly cutting my picture in picture footage with the cheese and chef footage and it rendered at a state prior to editing and fixing correctly. I apologise for the issues and I hope you enjoy the review regardless of the issues that presented themselves, and this is the reason for the delays because I wanted to be able to get better hardware to resolve the issues for later episodes (which I have now done)

The good food show winter 2013 was held over 4 days each with its own supertheater and minor stage appearances by chefs of both celebrity status and renound michellin star restaurant chefs making appearances to cook and prepare food live in front of your eyes throughout the show. Depending on which chefs you would wish to see you should make a booking to ensure you’ve purchased a ticket for the day your chef will be making an appearance.

I visited on a friday believing this to be the most suitable day to be able to get around the event freely without too many people and also be able to get good footage for review.

The show itself spanned over 4 interconnected halls at the nec with another consisting of the supertheatre where shows would be performed throughout the day on a live large stage with your favourite tv shows being recreated on stage in front of your eyes, there were also a large number of smaller stages throughout the show including a great british bakeoff section which was rather popular towards the end of the day when the series winner was on stage, and also masterchef mini stages and belkin and other brands with thier celebrity chef of choice performing at intervals. I chose to include some footage from one of these events, and unfortunately due to my lost footage I lost the best parts where chef pointed out his sous chef watching in the crowd, a nod to me stating how things he’d stated he shouldn’t be stating as they’d be out in the press the next day, and the humour the chef input when someone ran in front of the stage rather than walk around during the show.

This alone is worth the cost of entrance if you consider the show itself to be the foody equivalent of a rock concert, where your favourite chefs perform throughout the weekend and you choose to watch whichever ones you wish to see while missing others, and due to the way this show is setup you have a much better chance of getting up close and personal because not only do you get to be very close up to the action itself and even if you’re feeling adventurous enough taste the food after its “left out for display” but you can also go up to and converse with the chefs who are usually happy to have thier photographs taken, and chef turner was seen posing with visitors to the show at the belkin stand before his performance.

For those wishing to make a purchase at the show there is also plenty on offer ranging from good quality produce to award winning speciality food that you would normally only be able to obtain online, some with a minor show discount and pretty much everything at the show was available to be sampled. I would stress that if you were to visit the show intending to sample that you be considerate of others as there were some people swarming the food stalls taking more than one of each sample in order to simply eat everything available beyond one sample of each flavour, many sat stuffing thier mouths with 5-6 chunks of the same flavour cheese which was very greedy and inconsiderate, especially when you add the fact that the world cheese show was being held at the show which not only meant there were a significant number of cheese vendors all with samples on offer, but also once the judging had been performed that exceptionally large numbers of high quality cheeses would be available for consumption by any who desired.

Don’t fret if you’re not into cheese or lactose intollerent as there were other foods availalbe as well, with cooked and chilled meats, vegetarian specials, sweets of all varieties along with beers wines and soft drinks, all with samples as well as purchasable gifts to take away that very day should you have been inspired to cook at home with the produce and ingredients available.

I also noticed a number of techy gadgets for aiding your kitchen experience, from an egg yolker which removes the yolk via a dropper and keeps it intact to juicers and blenders and some unusaul technology in between. When I did ask if one vendor would be happy to demonstrate his juicer he instead decided to question my camera equipment calling it something from batteries not included, which was a little offensive considering I prefer the analogue film style as a medium for artistic choice due to the realism of colour depth, unfortunately this was not possible with the new honestech software and my old hardware for transfer not having software compatible with windows 7 being xp only I lost the ability to transfer high quality video footage and retain my analogue artistic vision. I have now been forced to change to a toshiba camilleo x450 which I must say looks less like a camera and more like a tube, so if that’s how people consider professional camcorders now I would prefer something that looks like my old camcorder. (and the new camcorder doesn’t even capture audio well) Of course I saw through his insult and asked how long it would take for his machine to produce anything and he stated 20 minutes, so obviousely he was simply trying to cover up the fact his machine would be slow and terrible at demonstrating how to make a quick smoothy and wanted the media to avoid showing off the slowness of his product at all, and it probably output a terrible quality smoothy too considering he refused to demonstrate it.

Time slipped by quickly and soon the day was over, which is why I would state if you were to visit you should definately plan which stages you wish to visit for which chefs and which stalls you would most like to visit to make the most of your day and be able to see everything you desire, and definately get samples and free goody bags from the vendors that have these on offer, and on your way out from the show in order to maximise your value for money, but just on the fact that you get to see and interact with the chef’s alone if you’re a fan of any food shows on tv and celebrity chefs you should definately check out the lineup of chefs at the show and choose a day where you get to see them up close and personal and you’ll get more than your moneys worth, especially if you choose the double feature ticket which gives you access to both the winter and summer shows.

If I’m lucky enough to go again and take footage I know I’ll be choosing to plan my day better, and at least I have more trustworthy video technology now also so that I won’t lose all of my footage from the show, and with a more timely review I can also give a better in depth review of the particular show, and hopefully draw comparisons between the winter and summer shows to better demonstrate the differences between them.

In the meantime check out the good food show site for yourself and see wether you think you would like to attend this year. www.bbcgoodfoodshow.com

Having worked at a number of uk festivals this year I decided to give a roundup of my experiences both as a bar worker and also of the festivals themselves and the acts I got to see during my working process, there has been a delay in putting this video up since filming due to an issue while recording and losing my main audio recording, hence why this video plays with only one audio side and isn’t the best quality audio.

This year’s festival season began at the isle of wight festival where the weather was so ridiculousely hot that being held in the staff campsite for the morning briefing and having not stocked up on water to be able to drink during this, and a rather extended wait of several hours I got a little heat stroke and spent half of the first day recovering, luckily there were no bands playing and I didn’t have to start work at this point so spent most of the day sheltered attempting to recover. Once my shift began however I jumped onto the serving side, avoiding using the MDU machines because I probably would’ve passed out doing all of the heavy lifting after spending the day recovering and still feeling a little whoozy.

The next day was rather a busy day working the entire day and having worked at festivals for a number of years I’ve learnt that if you seem to have been missed a lunch break by a certain hour you’re not getting a lunch break so I ensured after being missed that I got my lunch break, this process continued throughout the next day with missing lunch again and even missing being called for dinner and it being “too busy” for me to be able to leave for a dinner break, because I was working hard and being asked to cover the pop bar during other peoples breaks and also while other people slacked off not working hard or to sneak off and watch bands, it just seemed a little unfair so I moved from the center busy area (which I enjoy working but not to be taken advantage of without getting food and rest breaks as needed) and I took the first advantage to hop off to see the red hot chilli peppers to finish early on the final day, as the only band I got to see the entire festival it was good to be able to see thier only uk performance, and getting to go off with a few people I got on with on the bar it was fun. I wouldn’t mind as much working harder and having less benefits than others if it lead to promotional prospects but usually you get looked over because you work too hard and are too valuable a regular worker.

Then it was off to sonisphere with another agency, which was drafted in last minute by creativevents another company I use to work for until they lost the nec contract and as a result I didn’t have a job to work, some of the managers I recognise and they appear to have moved to london, I wouldnt’ve moved because birmingham is my home and the town that feels right for me, but it was nice to be recognised as a good worker. The event however was severely overstaffed which was unusual considering how last minute they called in other agencies, so there were 5-6 different agencies all with many staff sat around hoping for hours and many staff not even getting any hours and only those who persisted getting any. I got to see quite a few bands here and a couple of the noteworthy bands were babymetal who put on a good show with a cross of metal and jpop stage entertainment telling a story through song. I don’t think much of the audience understood due to how they began cheering along to the soundcheck thinking it was the performance, it was entertaining and the “metal gods” behind the j-pop girls did more than just play smiling and interacting with the audience drawing them into the performance.

Another Early morning performance which drew people in was ghost, where the main performance is around the stage presence of ghost who plays a demonic priest manipulating the band to play and acted the role very well, drawing people in with his heir of dignaty and had the presence of an overlord controlling everything around him. I can’t say I agreed with the lyrics being sung but the melodic nature and the stage act all tied in and it was definately an entertaining act, but possibly one that aids the incorrect negative image people have of metal fans. Sure you get some idiots who are violent sociopaths but you get that with every group, and on the most part metal fans actually tend to be kind natured caring people who just enjoy that music style and are outcast for thier looks and choice of dresscode.

I got stuck on a bar in the back end of nowhere for my actual shifts halfway between the dodgems and silent disco, there were a few customers but for the most part it was a little quiet and you couldn’t even hear the acts on stage from there so I couldn’t enjoy the festival while stuck there. After work there was a staff party, where all the people you’d been working with gathered. I got a sonisphere cup from one of the ladies who did the check in process, I really can’t remember if I promised her something if she got me one I have the feeling I may have promised things and completely forgot at the time (slipping my mind after a slow dragging shift) so if I see her again I’ll have to live up to promises, she didn’t ask but I guess people get shy to ask. Another minor regrett is not saying goodbye to the girl I’d been chatting with most of the time sat in the campsite waiting for work who describes herself as an outgoing doormouse, or something along those lines where she use to be shy but now she’s not afraid to ask for what she wants. She was nice but at the staff party I felt a little spurned when she decided to go off and chat to other people all night leaving me with the slightly offputting guy who attempted to use NLP on absolutely every girl “oh I don’t know why other people don’t think you’re pretty. I think you’re pretty” Who’s been saying that dude, nobody! seriousely don’t use NLP around me it seriousely puts me off you.

Anyway at the end of the party she came to say she was heading off to sleep, I should’ve said goodbye and got her number to stay in touch, but I was a little spurned and did think I’d see her at other events but it seems not as after this event they severely reduced numbers of staff to give people a fairer chance of working.

After this came the Ynot festival a small event with big bands, which this year got upgraded to a “medium” sized festival. I headed to the event a day earlier than the management of the event company I worked for because I would rather set up in the daytime (and travel on the shuttle bus) than arrive first thing in the morning and have to set up in order to work, and considering the travel required to get to the event it just makes it an impossible factor. Anyway having arrived the night before I got to enjoy the pre festivities which included goldie looking chain, usually frequent in the hidden garden of V festival unlisted they instead operated at this festival, and put on a good show drawing in the crowd. There were a few other acts on the first night and it was a fun start to the event.

My second day of the festival however was rather a dull one, considering I got shipped (literally) on to a bar on the side of the saloon bar which they had especially created as an experiment last minute as a shipping crate fast can selling bar, the lady the night before had found it boring on a short shift and I was in there the entire day on my own which was definate torture, a few of the customers came up intregued and thought maybe it was the secret area usually hidden within the festival, I had to point out my thoughts that it was in area 51 due to the layout of that area, still they persisted attempting some secret handshakes and passwords thinking it would get them somewhere, and a couple of leary people trying to steal the communications radio made the shift tougher than it needed to be but I got through.

The next day I insisted I couldn’t do that all weekend as they planned and I got moved onto the main bar where I had a good time and it was nice and busy, also the customers came up chatting to me who’d seen me in the fast can, and I was working alongside my EDS friend. I probably got her to make more drinks than I should’ve but having dated someone with EDS I get the feeling she wouldn’t want special treatment and she chose to operate the pouring of the stout, the next day she was helping in the office instead and I know she’d been to hospital recently for heart operations. I don’t know I’m not the most socially normal and we still chatted away normally and fine so I think everything was fine.

The last day while sat waiting for shifts they were trying to find someone to operate the fast can again, having used a rotating system the previous day and accidentally leaving someone in there on thier own with no stock and no radio unable to leave the till they decided to operate a two person system, I was asked by the manager of the main bar personally and my manager pointed out thats good to be asked personally, social awkwardness kicked in with me thinking “well I’m use to being asked for because I work hard” of course I didn’t say that and just sat with a strange look on my face. Anyway that day consisted of running around to cover every bar at the festival and missing my dinner break, and when I got back to the main bar I got sent on my break, but after finishing serving a customer, which happened to be 5 double spirit mixers, 5 jagerbombs and 2 stouts, so took a long time to pour. After serving this I went out to get my dinner which today was actually a decent cooked meal after an entire weekend of undercooked poorly made food. I got my food from the food vendor sat down and had one bite before being told I had to go back in to help work, needless to say I had a mini episode and probably blew any chance of being given a better role having spent the entire weekend being groomed by the bar managers and chatting and getting on well with thier closed knit group.

On the social side I also got to see a few bands and went off to the backstage area chatting with raggle taggle photography who I see there every year, who’ve still to put up the photo they took of me signing the guitar :-P and this year instead had a book to sign and remembered me well, I can’t say I checked to see if they’d put a photo of me signing the book with all of the bands but hey I don’t expect much after they promised to put up the photo of the guitar (or at least they could’ve sent me a copy if they didn’t wish to display it) and while waiting for my shift the second day I simply sat on the bails of hay on the bar and didn’t even attempt to socialise and made a friend who chatted to me who’s pretty cool.

Next weekend it was off to bloodstock where the staff I got on well with all went down to brighton for an event there while I chose bloodstock because it was closer and convenient and I knew people who would go as customers. I got a fair bit of time off at the event due to the fact that I was working from 8am-3pm so got to see most of the event, and while looking after the bar while the manager was off on lunch break I had uncle gio’s itallian joint came to the bar took plastic cups off the display and said “don’t worry come to me and I’ll give you pizza” after I stated we’re not allowed to giveaway stock. At this point I couldn’t really abandon the bar and it wasn’t worth tacling someone for some plastic cups so I just accepted it, however later when coming to claim the pizza for us all (and having checked with the 4 members of staff we had on the hobgoblin truck that nobody had claimed any pizza) he stated very loudly and harshly that 20 people had claimed pizza’s already and one person had 6 portions all to themselves, and pointing clearly that we were only 4 members of staff on our stand and nobody had claimed any pizza he refused outright to provide any, stating instead he would offer a £1 discount and “they were only plastic cups” which is besides the point, its about the honour and that he stated clearly he’d do a pizza for us in exchange, which in the spirit of trades shows that as a festival trader he and his stall are not to be trusted and you should never make any trades with them. Having emailed the company they state “trades are a regular part of festival work” and made no effor to apologise or put things right instead defending thier worker who clearly wanted to rip people off and probably made trades with other vendors not giving anything in exchange either so as a result are a company never to be trusted and you shouldn’t even purchase food from them due to thier shifty nature.

After this it was off to V festival, which is the one I’ve worked at for the longest, unfortunately due to the time I had to call the event from bloodstock to confirm my shift I ended up on the hidden garden rather than a main bar and ended up stuck on till with a very boring shift indeed. I did get to see some bands with all saints during one of my breaks, having to return and miss pure shores unfortunately, and getting to see the main headliners each day due to the closing time of the hidden garden. I also had a minor fanclub who thought my name was judas because of playing a name guessing game, and they even had pictures and signitures which was rather fun. I also ended up having to constantly shift my change out of the till onto customers due to the fact that they overloaded it with loose change and pound coins for how slow and hidden that particular bar was, which some of the other workers found a bit strange, but it was natural to get a better balance of change and notes for cashing up at the end of the day (and being able to close the till rather than having it overflow with coins)

All in all this year wasn’t as fun as usual but I got to have a good time and meet some new people, and I got a little more abuse than usual due to having put some weight on, but with the nature of people I would assume they would see I could excercise a little and lose the weight, so I plan to once I can sort my circumstances out and get back into shape and looking like me again, and I wouldn’t presume that was the reason I was on worse bars than normal, but we shall see how 2015 goes, and hopefully next year I will be able to get press permission to take footage and photo’s at the actual events to include in my roundup and reviews for next year, where I will more than likely return to seperate reviews because it makes more sense than having this overloaded single article. Time constraints and issues lead to this, and the less than professionally written article but I hope you still enjoyed reading and watching.