With Kinect Sports proving a huge success worldwide, and also a BAFTA award-winning game, we thought it was about time that the look of our Twycross HQ reflected that. No, we didn’t try to make it look like a giant golden statue – we just plastered the place with cool Sports imagery, review quotes and paraphernalia.
Rare Sites Manager Lynne Jackson, who oversaw the look of our recently opened second facility at Birmingham’s Fazeley Studios, teamed with Assistant Art Manager Paul Cunningham to create the new-look Twycross lobby. The centrepiece is a striking Kinect Sports mural emblazoned across the interior wall. We’ve also created a special area for guests to play Sports and discover first-hand what Kinect is all about.
For your own virtual tour of the Twycross lobby area, try clicking on the large image above. This Photosynth viewer allows you to view the area from all angles, and zoom in on points of interest to your heart’s content. Look hard enough and you might also spot a couple of cheeky team members sneaking into view.
Could you beat a real Olympic athlete at the Sprint in Kinect Sports? Last weekend, British track and field legends Linford Christie and Mark Lewis-Francis were put to the test against members of the public, and it really was a day to remember. This was all part of Xbox LIVE’s latest ‘Game With Fame’ event, where competition winners get to rub shoulders with the stars of sports, films and music.
In the latest contest, all our hopefuls had to do was post pictures of themselves in athletic poses. Charles Read from London was the ultimate winner, earning extra effort points for getting dressed up for the occasion, while Sarah Randon‘s garden-based javelin throw took the runner-up spot.
Charles was invited to Xbox HQ in London to game with Linford and Mark, while Sarah took part in a Kinect video chat over Xbox LIVE. Both winners also received a 4GB Xbox 360 console with Kinect.
Linford did what every good athlete should do before an event, seeking out some top coaching tips from those in the know. “I really need help with the running on the Kinect. Is there a technique to it?” he asked Sports fans via Twitter. Things turned out pretty well for the runner once he’d been told to “keep your knees up”, clocking up a Personal Best of 08.03, narrowly beating Mark’s 08.53.
If you’re a Sports veteran, chances are you’ll have gone a bit quicker than that – so now you can officially say you’re faster than a real Olympic runner (at least in avatar form). There’ll be more chances to win a Kinect in the coming weeks as Flora Hearts and superstar swimmer Sharron Davies are giving away 750 on their Facebook page. Best of luck!
It’s been a particularly celebratory week around here, with on-site festivities to mark the Kinect Sports launch falling in the same week as the annual Rare bonfire party. Bonfire Night aka Guy Fawkes Night being November 5th in the UK, for those who don’t keep up with our quirky traditions from centuries ago.
On the afternoon of Thursday 4th November, we all gathered in the Rare restaurant for champagne and food, reminiscence over old versions of Sports from way back at the beginning of the project, an approximate real-life recreation of Party Play mode and free-for-all access to Sports and other Kinect launch games. And a complimentary MGS blanket-with-sleeves for everyone! Top perks.
Then on Saturday evening we rolled back up to Rare HQ with partners and families in tow, all set to fill up with burgers, doughnuts and drinks, plonk ourselves down on hay bales in the marquee with everyone else and wait for the fireworks display to kick off. There appeared to be a small shed balanced on top of this year’s bonfire as it roared away in the middle of the Rare grounds, fenced off from wandering employees. Reason for this, according to the grounds staff? “We had a spare shed.” You’ve got to appreciate that kind of thinking.
Below are a few bonfire event pics, some from my rubbish point-and-click camera and some from fellow attendee Kostas’ more professional setup (cheers Kostas).
Coverage of our first ever Kinect Sports Community Day has been flooding in all week, and the response from the bloggers, community sites and Twitterers who attended has been overwhelmingly positive. Here’s a quick round-up of the posts so far.
“You’ve made a couple of Rare fans truly happy!” – Rareware Archives
“I had a brilliant day at Rare HQ, the developers were great, the food was amazing and Kinect Sports is a must-have.” – 123 Kinect
“It is still amazing to see how easily [Kinect] picks up different players and their positions.” – Xboxer360
“My scepticism of Kinect after reading about it, and even seeing it in action, has now been dissolved, the device works and it works well.” – MSXbox World
“Kinect Sports is the perfect introduction – sports and motions everyone knows and can easily translate to performing in front of a camera.” – Online Race Driver
“As you would expect from the company that developed the Avatar system – visually it is stunning.” – Xbox Live Addicts
“I went into the day not as a hater or a mega fan but with a skeptical view on what Kinect was and could actually do, and boy, did that change.” – Xbox.com forums
“Obviously there’s more to it than Wii Sports.” – Nintendo World Report
“Has certainly convinced me the Kinect is definitely going to have pride and place in my living room…” – Play2Compete
“I have tested the Wii and Wii Fit and I can assure you today that Kinect is much deeper and more accurate than its main competitor.” – NewRare
“It’s been an awesome day. I’ve played so much Kinect Sports it’s unbelievable.” – YouTube
“fab day yesterday at @RareLtd, arms are aching today from all the game playing at #kinectsportsday. Thanks for a brilliant time.” – Carol Garrington
Kinect Sports Day, aka Rare Community Day 2010, has been and gone. Good times were had and the atmosphere was spot on from start to finish. We’re keen to get some imagery out there to show you what went down, so here’s a quick timeline of the day with illustrative photography…
9.00: First staffers turn up to finish whatever jobs still need finishing. Game bays are fully set up while balloons, signage and artwork are installed with a rapid efficiency that would give Rapid Robot a run for his money.
11.00: Most visitors have turned up, now joined by the coach party. Pictures are duly taken of our swanky Reception exhibits.
11.15: Mike does his intro talk in the restaurant, followed by a live demo of Track & Field and Bowling courtesy of Ben along with volunteers from the Rare staff and guests.
11.45: Down the other end of the building to the gameplay area for cheeky hands-on time. Six bays dedicated to a sport each, plus three ‘floating’ bays.
12.45: Grub up! All back down to the restaurant for gratuitous feeding. Mini burgers! Chicken skewers! Wraps! Mini fish and chips! Mars bar cakes!
As homecomings go, Kinect Sports couldn’t have expected a more impressive bash than this year’s Eurogamer Expo. We’ve been touring the US and Japan in recent months, and it’s awesome to be able to bring Sports back to such an immense crowd of UK gamers.
There’s electricity in the air as we squeeze off the London Underground and ascend into the masses in front of Earls Court exhibition centre. Over 20,000 tickets have been sold for the three-day show, and the queue is already going around the building – even though it doesn’t open for another two hours!
We’re lucky enough to have yellow wristbands that let us in right away. That’s enough time to check out the Kinect booth and have a wander around the other stands. Sports has its own demo pod, right next to Joy Ride, Adventures and the stage for Dance Central. It’s also good to see that some of the booth helpers from the Kinect Galleries in Covent Garden have come over to lend a hand. We certainly need it when the show floor opens and everyone comes rushing in.
Another important reason for coming to Eurogamer Expo is the annual GamesIndustry.biz recruitment fair, held in the same hall as the main convention. Rare has taken part in this for several years running now, and we’re a little nervous about the number of people attending. It’s a good job that Sophia, Michelle, Lynne, Dave, Ellen, Hannah, Ste and Paul are all on hand to dish out careers advice. Every time I take a look at the stand, it’s completely surrounded by graduates keen to make a mark in the games industry.
Back on the Kinect booth, we’ve just finished with a few demos of Bowling, and we’re on to Table Tennis and Beach Volleyball for the rest of the day. Everyone seems to be enjoying the exercise of Volleyball, and there are always more than a few willing volunteers for the 100m Sprint.
It’s a really good crowd – mostly hardcore gamers who want to know more about how the technology works and how you set it up. More than anything, after reading about Kinect online for the past few months, they now want to test it out for themselves. It’s a great atmosphere and Eurogamer Expo is an excellent way to top off an incredible few months on the events calendar.
Checking in from TGS 2010, here’s Rare’s Executive Producer of Technology and Communications (phew) Nick Burton.
It’s the final big trade show of 2010 at Makuhari Messe just outside Tokyo. As always Microsoft are there in force, and this year there’s an obvious focus on Kinect and its launch titles.
We need to do much of our work before TGS opens its doors on Thursday, training the local team and making sure everything is set up correctly. The usual scene greets us; the stand is nowhere near complete, everything is still covered in plastic wrap and it seems like chaos! But it’s normal for a trade show, it’ll look great and all come together by 9am tomorrow.
The stand is huge, the local team have done a great job putting it together, I can honestly say it’s one of the best stands at the show. We get the builds up and running in the pods then turn our attention to the stage where the companions will be doing live demos throughout the show. Everything looks good, we run through the builds of Sports and the other first party games and end the day happy even though it must be over 30 degrees in the hall!