So we recently held a press day at Rare HQ in Twycross, with a mixture of UK, European and American journalists enticed into our lair to get hands-on and in-depth with all six sports from Kinect Sports: Season Two. We also made a big effort to spruce up the surroundings in the days before they arrived, so we thought you might enjoy a little look behind the scenes.
Some eyelash-flutteringly nice impressions of the game (and the day itself) have since appeared online. Highlights are quoted and linked below, and if we spot any more we’ll big them up on our Twitter feed and Kinect Sports Facebook page. For now, check out some of Dale and Leigh’s snaps from the day…
Time for one last farewell to Cologne’s Gamescom show for this year. Microsoft PR sent over a walloping great load of photos from the event, so we thought we’d pass some along and give you a chance to see the sights from the comfort of your creaky old armchair. Sights specific to Kinect and Kinect Sports: Season Two, obviously, not just any old bunch of random sights.
So here we go, a wall of images from the Xbox Play Day, the Community Party and the Gamescom show floor itself. Dig in.
George Andreas (Lead Designer) was at this year’s Gamescom in Cologne, demonstrating Kinect Sports: Season Two and giving gamers their first taste of Tennis and Darts in action. With our loyal readers in mind, we smuggled a notepad and pen into George’s rucksack and threatened him with terrible punishments if he failed to turn in a diary of his adventures in Deutschland. Enjoy!
We started the week-long event by visiting five-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis at her hotel to give her some ‘expert’ tuition on Kinect Sports: Season Two‘s Tennis before the following day’s publicity shoot at the Xbox Play Day. I must admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew she was obviously a huge tennis star, but wasn’t sure how she would take to Rare’s spin on the real sport she once dominated so impressively.
After a few practice rallies, Martina was soon getting the hang of the game. She then looked at me with a steely determination in her eyes and asked if I was the best at this game… game on! I consider myself to be a highly competitive person given the right circumstances, but it was so ingrained in Martina that she wanted to win and win big. With very little tuition, she soon learned some of the more advanced tricks and techniques and we ended up playing for over half an hour. Needless to say, Martina was well prepared for the next day’s event.
She swept away the competition at the show and was determined to seek out a rematch with me between her publicity commitments. We found time and started a match. She beat me. In full view of a cheering crowd that had gathered to watch. Oh dear. Well done Martina.
So this week, the Rare web & community team/duo/one-man superspy operation (depending on day and workload) vacates the big green office that has been its home since April last year, and goes on a mission to acquire a new home elsewhere in the top secret rural complex that is Rare’s Twycross HQ.
Which seems like as good a time as any to take the camera on a whistle-stop tour of the Rare buildings, looking out from the inside, snapping some arbitrary window views to demonstrate how location has always been one of our best assets.
Pictures of random stuff found in offices and big sweeping corridor shots (sweeping as in grand and expansive, not focusing on cleaners) are also on the agenda, but one thing at a time, eh?
L-R: 1. Front of the Rare car park as seen from the stairs in the main building
2. View of reception area from the rear, taken from inside a development barn
3. Pond, decking and flowery wheelbarrow behind reception as seen from the main corridor
L-R: 4. Football pitch and rill viewed from the leafy Barn D adjoining corridor (not inside a bush)
5. Big view from the full-length window at the end of the top floor corridor; not a real bird
6. Terrace on the restaurant roof as seen through the boardroom windows
L-R: 7. The fields spread out behind Rare, viewed from the back of one of the barns
8. Front end of Barn A and the passageway joining it to the main corridor
9. Hello sir! Looking out over the decking past the latest addition to our reception area Sports decor
Most people go to E3 to pick up free branded T-shirts and take pictures of booth babes, but Steve Brand and George Andreas assure us that they were doing nothing of the sort. They were there on Rare’s behalf to demonstrate Kinect Sports: Season Two‘s Golf and American Football games, and to spend a lot of time on camera talking to the likes of G4TV and The Gadget Show.
As the Microsoft press briefing revealed Season Two on the big stage, the team back at Twycross was living it up at an on-site family BBQ and watching the presentation on a giant projector screen. Upon his return, George found time for a quick round-up of this year’s experiences at the Los Angeles Convention Center…
This year’s E3 was typically noisy, exhausting but ultimately hugely rewarding. Kinect Sports: Season Two was finally announced and was brilliantly received by all who played it. Plenty of people were encouraged by the Rare and BigPark teams to have a go at either Golf or American Football, and we even invented challenges to keep them coming back for more.
With American Football, we had many great touchdown moments that people enjoyed. In our Golf demo a few players scored a hole in one, and we also witnessed of the most spectacular Eagles I think possible on the par 4 Eagle Falls hole. The ball was hit from the rough, through the trees, bounced off one and landed right in the cup! Amazing! It’s fair to say that the guy playing was rather pleased with himself…
The excitement generated by moments like this was fantastic and the crowd really got into the moment –which was great to see and experience first-hand, and bodes well for the upcoming release of Kinect Sports: Season Two. – George
Lead Producer Steve Brand is at this year’s E3 in LA, representing Kinect Sports: Season Two and keeping this special event diary for us under only mild duress.
Well, what can I say. Kinect Sports: Season Two, nominated in IGN’s Best of E3 Awards for Best Motion-Controlled Game and Best Family Game! Not too shabby…
George Andreas, Scott Henson and myself have been over in LA now for a few days now. Following on from a late-night press event on Monday, we shuffled our way past the assembled throng, flashed our exhibitor passes at the burly security types and made our way onto the show floor.
The Microsoft booth is pretty much the same as last year, with the fish bowl Kinect booths attached to the main structure but with some added Kinect external real estate this year. George and I were positioned outside and Scott manfully took on the press and media within one of the fish bowls (he did have A/C in there though, which shouldn’t be forgotten).
I took on Golf while George stepped up to show off his guns with American Football. Our location, right on the corner of the Microsoft booth, gave us great exposure and there was a crowd spectating for most of the day.
I had control of my audio setup with Golf, and as such enjoyed pumping up the volume to give people an earful of the ’80s classic Gold by Spandau Ballet when playing the victory stings.
The day seemed to go very well, being capped off by the award nominations above. I’ll be doing what I can tomorrow to make sure the judges vote in the correct manner.
What better way to finish the day than to go out for a meal of George’s favourite food, sushi… he actually hates it. I’m reliably informed the sushi we ate this evening was pretty top-notch. I also ate some raw cow, which was a first…
Mr. Andreas is on the early shift tomorrow, so I’ll be spending some time checking out the competition. – Steve
Ask anyone’s opinion on the best sporting event in the world, and they’ll almost certainly answer, “Simple! It’s the Kinect Sports Superstars event.” It’s possible that someone might mention the Olympics, but don’t trust them, they’re almost certainly lying.
This was part of a long-running British tradition of making athletes compete in sports they’ve never tried before. Not for holistic training or anything like that – we just like to have a giggle.
Where else could you watch cricketer Graeme Swann pummelling skeleton champion Amy Williams in the Kinect Sports boxing ring? What could be more amazing than seeing Commonwealth table tennis star Darius Knight battling gymnast Louis Smith at the 100m sprint? Tickets would have undoubtedly sold for thousands, but we decided that showing the event on YouTube would be fairer, because London is quite far for some people to travel.