2013! The year we find out what the Mayans were trying to save us from. Seems like a good time to put an end to that AD business and restart the count from 1AU (After Un-pocalypse). So in January 1AU, here’s a rundown of what was circulating through Rare’s ‘channels’.
Beyond spreading the news of a Kinect Sports Gems page update and Ultimate Collection putting players through their paces at an NFL event, we shared a whole stack of pics this month, most notably in the snowy Rare HQ gallery. In fact you could follow the whole (annual) epic snow saga from the first icy morning through a near lock-in to the wintry gallery aftermath. And in the midst of all that was another office shuffle with exciting real-time before and after window shots. Yes! All the red-hot breaking news as it happened! Also cake.
There was plenty of fan activity spanning audio, video, photography, art and cosplay: a celebration of Battletoads‘ music and a YouTube medley of Rare themes, a Field Goal Contest video throwdown, an unlikely Ghoulies/Sports artistic crossover and a snapshot of one fan’s very fine Rare figure collection. And the cosplay? Sure you’re ready? Okay: a re-enactment of Banjo-Kazooie‘s game over scene and a man dressed as a GoldenEye N64 cartridge. Meanwhile Rare Gamer rolled out Top 5 lists themed around Xmas presents, exploitable features and cheat codes while TrueAchievements got cracking on those walkthroughs for Kinect Sports Gems.
Over the course of the month we also mourned THQ and HMV, offered Robin’s flumpet services, dropped some knowledge, learned some new words along with new uses of existing words, tried to subvert a Hollywood film, fought bacterial conjunctivitis and considered developing Xbox Kinetic Tennis Ice Ice Baby Superstar. We kept busy.
Now it’s back to life in the fragile future world of February 1AU, and if you want to keep tabs on how that’s working out for us, we post stuff daily on the RareLtd Twitter profile and at unpredictable intervals on Facebook as RareLtd and KinectSportsOfficial. We also do a monthly summary for THE LIKES OF YOU. Same time next month then?
Not to make it sound like we fizzled out like a wet sparkler in the twilight days of 2012 – we prefer to think of it as winding elegantly down for the holidays. Fortunately there was plenty going on in the first three weeks of the month to balance out the final week, when we were all at home ignoring anything work-related in favour of tearing open presents and eating all the Ferrero Rocher in the world.
Of course, perversely, the main Rare event of the month went and happened on the 25th anyway with the second wave of Kinect Sports Gems rattling through the system and spilling out onto Xbox LIVE Arcade. Prior to that, we’d published the long-in-gestation Kinect Sports Tepid Seat, said farewell to the exhausted KS1 Facebook app and witnessed the gamerscore huntsmen at TrueAchievements get cracking on guides for the first wave of Gems. In terms of Rare’s Minecraft contribution, December held only a single piece of news, but as a round-up of the Halloween Skin Pack charity haul it was a good one. Heartwarming developer solidarity ensued.
The month in Exciting Lists and Features started with a bang as GoldenEye was bigged up in TIME Magazine’s All-TIME 100 Video Games and crowned king of GameTrailers’ Top 10 First-Person Shooters, although Game Informer’s nod to DK64 in a rundown of the Freshest Raps was an honour on pretty much the same level. Perfect Dark gave us 10 minutes of rowdy LAN Party action, Freezeezy Peak got a Synthetic Orchestra makeover and Rare Gamer delivered a Top 5 of Rare Doomsday Scenarios. Very festive! One thing in that paragraph, at least.
The 12th month of 2012 was also laced with interesting dates, references to Schwarzenegger and Don King, attempts to do justice to the #XmasGames hashtag, totally legal fights, fire alarms, freebies and seasonal photos of frosty windows and the Rare Xmas tree (the latter instantly subverted by scandalmongers). And the Games on Demand version of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts went briefly on sale on December 29th, but we couldn’t post a reminder on that day due to Ferrero Rocher immobilisation.
Right, 2012, we’re done with you. You couldn’t even deliver an apocalypse, just so much rain that even the Rare ducks and geese looked sick of it by June. We’ve already set sail in the 2013 social media fun boat, so if you’re interested in seeing what kind of stuff it throws overboard, doggy-paddle after it on Twitter (at RareLtd) or Facebook (at RareLtd or KinectSportsOfficial). Failing that, catch you back here in early February for our next monthly stopover.
Movember! Black Friday! Thanksgiving! Kinect Sports Gems! Second week of Kinect Sports Gems! That’s what happened in November. Well, there were a few other things. The Minecraft Halloween Skin Pack charity deadline was up, we landed ourselves some space to talk recruitment in Develop and marked the 30,000 Twitter followers milestone with a couple of Rare shelf tat giveaways. That’s what happened in November. As a result, Gary Busey secured the presidency.
Off-site Rare list and feature sightings got started immediately as we picked up on Games Radar’s Halloween celebration of hooded characters, Complex’s 50 Coolest Video Game Villains and a day of speculative Xbox fightin’ game rosters featuring contributions from OXM (US) and Invert-On. Rare Gamer list action also kicked into gear later in the month, with Top 5 rundowns on Mr. Pants Sightings, Thanksgiving Gluttons and Femmes Fatales. The rhinoceros horn, it turns out, is formed entirely of keratin.
In particular, late ’90s Rare shooters got a good share of coverage in November. Perfect Dark was not only the focal point of some tasty retrospectives but seemingly present in spirit in Black Ops II. For GoldenEye, meanwhile, we saw late recognition of both its 15th anniversary and its LCD game little brother. Neatly bridging both games, NeoGAF pundits had some interesting things to say (good and bad) on the topic of GoldenEye and PD‘s lasting popularity. Our locally sourced red cabbage has won plaudits for its rich texture.
Other blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em Rare game reappearances throughout the month: Banjo-Tooie in limited edition art, Bad Fur Day in sculpture, Blast Corps in real world news, and Kinect Sports just out there pulling muscles, slugging vegetables and empowering the youth. Only the most experienced professionals should attempt to integrate chimp juggling into their act.
Finally: poll results! When we kicked off the latest run of Rare Life staff profiles, we asked which areas you’d like to see covered. For some time it was neck and neck between Art and Software, but in the final stretch those budding coders raced ahead with 27% of the vote, leaving Art on 25%. Design finished a close third with 23%, trailed by Production (9%), QA (9%) and Audio (6%). Software it is again for the next one! The people, they have spoken. Those stains? Dandelion & burdock.
So that’s that – we’re all Novembered out. Next monthly social media catch-up scheduled for the start of 2013, but you can keep up with us on a more regular basis via our RareLtd Twitter feed or our Facebook presence at RareLtd and KinectSportsOfficial. Have a merry Mayan apocalypse! You win the Blankety Blank cheque book and pen.
Caketober! We promised cake photos (regardless of whether or not you wanted them) and so with the assistance of the world’s oldest Rashberry, we rustled up, presented and went to town on three deliveries of novelty cake action throughout the month. Well, three that we told you about, anyway. Next time: Pievember! Or not.
Things unrelated to cake or pie but related to Rare during October included an onslaught of new vacancies that we’re looking to fill (both permanent and contract), a couple of Skin Packs for a popular 4m-selling XBLA game, and the opportunity to grab Kinect Sports Ultimate Collection (of celebrity casino scuffle fame) for 20 squid. 13 sports! 20 squid! Do the math/maths depending on your regional abbreviation of the word ‘mathematics’.
As Halloween approached we unleashed a frenzy of pumpkin-whittling creativity, just a glimpse of which could be seen in this pic (featuring all three eventual winners, as it turned out). Also easing into the Halloween spirit throughout the month were fansites Rare Gamer and RFDB with lists of Grating Ghosts, Halloween DLC, Cemeteries and Ghostly Encounters, while an earlier non-spooky Top 7 featured the toughest Rare challenges for all you hard mans.
Notable mentions on other sites included GoldenEye love in GamesRadar’s history of Bond games, a dedicated outing for Banjo in Game Informer’s B-K Replay and some real old-school memories in a Retro Gamer thread on fave Ultimate games. Not forgetting fan art highlights of gaming’s premier post office loon Fanny Franker and buff Battletoad Pimple.
And the traditional penultimate paragraph round-up of other arbitrary shenanigans: a couple of competitions for Minecraft Skin Packs! 4000 tweets! Pre-Rare arcade games! Birdwatching! Intranets! Darth Vader! And Mike Singleton. Sad face.
That’s it then, people. If you want to catch up with us before the next monthly social shakedown, you can use Twitter and Facebook to hunt us through the night like those tramps in Hard Target: we’re on Twitter as RareLtd and Facebook as both RareLtd and KinectSportsOfficial. Be sure to bring Lance Henriksen with you. He can sign our faces. Lance is the man.
Cake! We forgot to address the urgent social issues of the day by bringing in tons of cake last month. Next time. Definitely next time. October? Caketober.
While most of September’s Rare press activity swirled around Kinect Sports Ultimate Collection – its launch day, its trailer and its hip and banging college tour, assuming young people still use those exact terms – momentum also built behind recruitment as we continue to marshal our forces for the next big thing. Word was spread of opportunities including Network and Gameplay Engineering through the futuristic trumpet of social media, and our first staff profile in a while settled on Tools Engineering to form another facet of a software-focused September. But if you find all that stuff boring, someone also sent in a humorous picture of Jet Force Gemini on XBLA. Kind of.
Outside the loop of our immediate in-house schemes and plans, Rare Gamer rallied round the proud standard of Top Fives to deliver on Rare Arcade References, Unlucky Characters and Awesome Tanks, while RFDB rolled up their Rare commercial collections into one mighty whole. Elsewhere, The Completionist tore through the fundamentals of Diddy Kong Racing in approximately 17 minutes, Zero1Gaming pottered around in gaming gardens including one of ours, and Dorkly locked and loaded some of the best ever multiplayer maps.
It was also a month of Twitter two-fers, with two Rare-inspired comic strip outings, two quality snippets of translated Kinect Sports: Season Two reviews, two instances of unsolicited end-of-week education, two film-related Kinect Sports retweets, two overheard workplace comments and (at least) two raised glasses on the 30th birthday of Ultimate Play the Game. And among those posts not so easily paired up were the latest Minecraft Skin Pack giveaway, a belated Revels outburst, a vengeful cat and someone getting excitable about KI3.
Sirs and madams, it ends there. You know where to find us for more frequent updates: on Twitter as RareLtd, on Facebook as RareLtd and KinectSportsOfficial, or round the back of Somerfield in Ashby de la Zouch selling insider secrets (and stale cake) at very reasonable rates if you know how to do the special handshake.
The first casualty of social media is cake. No cake pictures for months. We’ll try to fix that next time, but right now here’s our retrospective recce of the Rare social media landscape throughout August.
Plenty of bases to cover too, not just Rare’s Minecraft Skin Pack 2 invasion and Kinect Sports: Season Two‘s role in the G3 Celebrity Game With Fame and Play to Give charity campaigns; we also added more new positions to our contract and permanent vacancies, had Software Manager Bjorn dispensing recruitment tips in Develop, and to round off the month Season Two boosted the desirability factor of the Xbox Family Fun bundle for anyone looking to kit up with the best of Xbox 360 and Kinect in one fell swoop. We even raided the supply depot for another Skin Pack 1 code giveaway on the same day. Court martial that!
Campaigns of the past were remembered in a wide range of Rare (and Ultimate) retrospectives over the course of August, from Eurogamer‘s salute to Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts all the way back 24 years to Knight Lore in the words of CVG, by way of Digital Spy‘s DKC remembrance and at least three GoldenEye lookbacks courtesy of Register Hardware, Destructoid and 1UP. A recap of Ultimate’s games on Commodore 64 helped mark the machine’s 30th anniversary, while Battletoads popped up not once but twice, with a sighting of the elusive arcade version posted on Reddit followed by a NES completion attempt in cult Japanese series Game Center CX.
Meanwhile, the long-serving fansite battalion formed up to roll out features based on Rare Kings and Queens, GBC and GBA commercials, plot holes, bad aliens, side-scrollers and unhappy endings, grotty bosses, melodies, bad schools and wastes of time. Heck of a tour of duty this month, soldiers.
Other points of social media engagement throughout August included the loss of a couple of national institutions, Peter Dickson at the Olympics, outdoor meetings, edible eyeballs, misguided mail and Ninja Turtles. And let’s not forget the outcome of the latest community poll: we asked you to choose your favourite Kinect Sports: Season Two add-on pack, and quickly saw the Basketball Challenge Pack tear into the lead with a winning 26% of the vote. Maple Lakes and Midnight Mountain came joint second on 21%, Challenge Packs #1 and #2 bringing up the rear with 16% apiece. No runaway victory for the freebies! Who’d have thought?
That’s it for another month: to enrol for active duty on the social media frontline, flush us out on Twitter or in one of our Facebook guises (currently Rare and Kinect Sports). Otherwise, take four weeks’ leave then get back here in full dress uniform for the September situation report. Dismissed!
New intro! Right then. July, eh? Bit mad.
As we watched the world roll by through the starboard windows of our stately social media airship, we witnessed such events as Kinect Sports: Season Two dropping neatly into the framework of Kinect PlayFit even as its DLC conveniently went half-price, while both Sports and its sequel were spotted in a variety of social scenarios across the world – by mechanics, with dads and like a boss for starters. We also kitted out some intrepid reps, lowered the rope ladder and sent them down south for the Develop conference and up north for Dare to be Digital, all the while advertising for a regiment of new positions to strengthen the Rare fleet even further.
Meanwhile, to mark the emergence of a Honey Bear and esteemed colleagues in Minecraft for Xbox 360 via the release of Skin Pack 1, codes for the pack were given away more than once despite some terrible setbacks. The unveiling of Rare’s first Minecraft presence took place in three stages over a couple of weeks: first MS blog PlayXBLA revealed the bear himself, then we spilled the beans on all his mates/non-mates, and only a few days later came the timely launch of the pack itself. But is it actually Banjo & co. mucking about in the Minecraft world, or just a collection of skins for ‘Steve’? DK Vine battled manfully with this conundrum.
July was a fine vintage for third-party listage: IGN’s Top 50 Video Game Makers had a slot for Rare, Diddy Kong cartwheeled into Virgin Media Games’ pick of videogaming child heroes, Digital Spy backed Perfect Dark for a movie interpretation and Games Radar labelled ’90s Rare brawler Battletoads Double Dragon a “bizarre crossover”. As if. Prolific fansites Rare Gamer and RFDB also buzzed with activity – the former grappling with the triple horrors of the Top 5 Rare Zombies, Fiendish Faces and Evil Veg then taking on a double bill of Most Difficult and Most Useless achievements, while the latter escorted their Rare commercial compilations into the ages of Game Boy, Xbox and Xbox 360.
To give a broad cross-section of events back at the Rare HQ airship dock, it rained a bit, rained a bit more, we watched the Olympics opening ceremony, got some strange email, did performance reviews, kept an eye on the fizzy drink situation, inserted cheese into game titles, lamented the fading influence of ’80s arcade games and pestered Viva Piñata artist Ryan to draw us a Bunnycomb on his lunch break.
One final office move marked the passing of July and the recalibration of our social media steampunk astrolabe for another month. Drift with us on the thermals of August via Twitter and/or Facebook, where we do double time as Rare and Kinect Sports. For those who have no patience with the quickfire cadence of the modern world, this summary will reoccur in a month’s time. There will be whimsicality and flippancy and baseless analogies and you are most welcome to join in.
Good old June, inspirational first full month of summer. That’s why there are so many characters, songs and cultural items named after it, like Junebug, June Sarpong, Terry & June, June is Bustin’ Out All Over and June Brown. You know, Dot from EastEnders. Is that good enough for an intro? No? I’m not surprised, it’s a rip-off of last month’s.
Anyway, rain was the theme as we came staggering, drenched, out of the back end of June. Rain, rain, rain. Thankfully there were more motivational things to talk about in the preceding weeks. Worthy charities benefited from the Xbox Summer Stadium and RED(RUSH) Games, while competitive maniacs benefited from an update to the Kinect Sports: Season Two world records. We listed a whole stack of new jobs, dispatched Dave to talk Kinect to Gamasutra and found time to appear on Hollyoaks, apparently. Meanwhile, that juicy mid-month Xbox LIVE Games on Demand sale brought us some nice bits of feedback on Xbox 360 launch titles Kameo and Perfect Dark Zero.
Down the sun-dappled road into fansite country, RFDB took a look back at some Rare game TV ads in the SNES, N64 and GC eras, while Rare Gamer fed the keywords ‘Intro’, ‘Cow’ and ‘Minion’ into their Top 5 list machine. Broader coverage turned up a Captain Skyhawk remix, of all things, along with PD GBC peering over the parapet in PC World’s look at the best console to handheld franchises.
Getting our grubby mitts on some Season Two All Access Pass codes to dish out led to the first of two competitions in June; the second was to celebrate storming past the 25,000 Twitter follower milestone. Together with our company fun day, all the camaraderie almost made us forget about the chilling image we were sent to mark Banjo‘s 14th birthday, and of course the ever-present menace of our haunted parking space, clearly pictured here.
And then we were done, and it was July, and by the time you read this we’re confident that the sun will have remembered it has technically been summer for some time now. Why not see if this hope bears fruit by tracking us on Twitter – or, if you’re the Facebook type, drizzle your impish Likes over Rare or Kinect Sports. See you in next month’s round-up, where a new idea for an intro is 68% guaranteed.
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