Author Archives: Jonathan Cresswell

Radioplayer – Self Service Portal

I was commissioned by UK Radioplayer to design and build a new front end for the station management system, the Self-Service Portal.

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It’s where radio stations manage their own profile data, and the goal was to turn what was a long list of form fields into a more user friendly journey, with tools and tips to encourage more fields to be filled in.

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It was built using the Twitter Bootstrap framework with FuelUX.

As well as being navigated with a wizard (with custom UI and additional features), it uses tag fields, image uploaders, integrating a custom map tool and step-by-step validation.

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How to make a game trailer – E3 2013 Edition

We start with a disclaimer.

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It doesn’t matter that none of it is gameplay. Then let’s get a quote on the screen.

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Maybe some blood fades over the quote too.

A silhouetted man walks slowly through the plains, or a ruined city. A man, remember, this is a video game.

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A voiceover monologue talks about how things were before it happened and how we live in times of desperation like he’s some sort of fucking poet when he should be more concerned with surviving.

Some light beams through the clouds as the atmospheric music plays. Maybe a choir.

Blackout.

It’s dramatic. Voiceover pauses. “And that’s… when it all changed.”

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Boom. The music kicks up, maybe some metal, we’re moving away from dubstep. A tiny bit, anyway. This section is all CG. Sorry, in-engine. Some shootout. Real close up.

The fight concludes with a slow-mo shot of a gun being held above a head. Man, he’s so badass.

Fast cut to the car chase

More close-ups that clearly won’t represent how it is to play – cars bash in to eachother and nothing slows down despite the fact you’ll be heavily penalised for driving like that in the game.

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A car swooshes by the camera in slow motion. REAL slow. Show off those reflections. Stick on a good sound for that swoosh-by for good measure.

Top down shot of the action. It pulls back to reveal a view of the city. It stops, to think that’s the end OH WAIT NO, let’s pull back to reveal that it’s the ENTIRE WORLD.

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That’s right – a persistent online world. No-one thought of that.

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Pull back again. Reveal the world is being shown… on a tablet.

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Someone taps the screen to make a helicopter strike, because we don’t want to look out of touch and we know what these popular “tablets” are, just not what you’re actually using them for.

Boom. Fade to title.

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It’s also coming to the PS4 but Microsoft gave us some cash if we shut up about that for now.

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How to trade-in used games on the Xbox One: A simple guide

If you’ve read Microsoft’s explanation of “how game licensing works on the Xbox One” and thought, “wow, that sounds a bit difficult” then don’t worry – as we’ve got an easy step-by-step guide of what you can do with your Xbox One.

Step 1: Get your Xbox One

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Step 2: Take it to a store

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Step 3: Trade in the Xbox One and get anything else instead

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See, it’s easy!

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Xbox go home… and think about what you’ve done

You’re no longer the key demographic, it’s an event about the platform not the games, and all tech announcements tend to be met with cynicism.

Those things are all true, but let’s get them out of the way because it doesn’t stop the criticisms being true either.
The new Xbox One is supposed to be “simple, instant and complete” however in reality it seems to be “instant”, at best. When you’re setting out a bold new preposition to sell your new, expensive electronics box, it’s probably best to give people a reason to buy one over their perfectly usable existing Xbox.

So if we accept it’s no longer just about games – and judging by the time spent on it last night – it’s all about entertainment. That’s fantastic, I spend much more time using the video-on-demand services on the 360 than gaming, but am yet to see how the new Xbox considerably improves on that. There’s voice commands, which just reminds me of a scene from 30 Rock where the TV turns itself off because someone said it on a show. It’s a silly thing that decent technology could prevent, but people watching the announcement last night reported that it kept cutting off as each time the video showed a voice command, their original Kinect was listening and trying to do it. That really bodes well from the future.

Pressing “TV” and “HDMI” on my remote is hardly a difficult experience that needs revolutionising, and besides, you need a separate approved tuner box to provide the TV source, it suffers from the same issues as Google TV where it can’t really control the recorder on a tuner so you still need to switch back on your TV AND this isn’t even coming to the UK at launch. Simple, instant and complete.

The all in one system... if one means requiring a new console, Xbox Live subscription and set top box.

The all in one system… if ‘one’ means requiring a new console, Xbox Live subscription and set top box.

How else do they plan on improving that experience? Personalisation and recommendations. Lovely, but they probably should have gotten round to that already. You’ve got basic multitasking with the ‘snap’ feature to have a browser or app alongside your TV viewing – but people have already decided how to do that with their phones and tablets, they’ve moved on. How does having the extra things on the TV screen inherently improve it? That’s yet to be proven, and this is just playing catch up.

Multifunctional consoles are great – but for that to thrive they need a more open ecosystem for apps (not mentioned) and those functions to be considerably better than how they work on my 360 to justify a replacement! And I may be biased because of my involvement in it… but why not try attracting the radio industry? If they’re all about woo-ing big partners, there is more than just sports and TV out there.

It’s early days for the announcement, but it’s not early days for the console. Microsoft and Sony’s attempts to wrangle a last year or two extra out of their consoles has led to some stagnation – we’ve seen some great games, but everything’s slowed down in anticipation. There should be more ready to reveal. People’s interest has moved on, and elsewhere.
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And that’s what worries me – If you’re going to do entertainment, do it well. Big expensive development on games needs a bigger audience, and other things can help drive audiences to games (see: phones). Build up an app ecosystem, truly link together video services in a useful way. Don’t just add more voice control and act like that really is what people are after. People don’t need a console, make them want it. Make them want to spend the considerable amount of money replacing their existing console with a better one. And the earlier the better – not in three years time, where media and technology will have moved on elsewhere too.

At least the showing of Forza and Call of Duty means they’re aware they still do need to actually do things people want – you need to keep the existing audiences happy, absolutely – you need to go further to get people who aren’t still buying those. And I’m not just talking about Kinect. Maybe we’ll see that at E3. I’ll wait and see, and suspect some of this mess may become clearer. More features. More games.But after this long waiting for the console itself, we shouldn’t really be up in the air this much. There’s always going to be unanswered questions at this stage but there’s a need for more clarity – see the mess over preowned games and sharing with friends. Their attempts to clarify the situation have clarified very little.

But hey, simple, instant and complete. Maybe it feels like that for them. Just not for everyone else yet.

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Building a make-your-own version of Google Glass – the photos…

2013-05-03 14.33.57With all the excitement (and bile, there’s exaggerations both ways) over Google Glass now it’s in the hands of “explorers”, I was starting to feel a bit jealous.

So I decided to make my own.

For the radio show Connected, we’d already turned Instagram in to glasses, FIFA 13 in to Monopoly and Curiosity in to a home toy. So we’ve proven our ability to bodge things together in the name of technological development.

This time, I took the Instaglasses – and added an 808 car key micro-camera. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to make heads or tails of how it works and aiming it seems to be an artform science has yet to understand.

The idea was that they should try and slip away, it be subtle and not too obvious… But mysteriously everyone noticed them and kept talking about them.

So here’s my… creative attempts at photography. Introducing, the home made Google Glass project.

Turns out, a lot of work, money, research and development are actually necessary. Who knew.

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Bitcoins explained simply… in the style of Dr Seuss

For my radio show, we tries to come up with the simplest explanation of Bitcoin possible.

It wasn’t simple enough, so we tried to do an even simpler one. Taking inspiration from children’s literature – Dr Seuss.

Terms and conditions apply to the quality of rhymes and details contained.

You can hear the world premiere of it live on my Siren FM show Connected, and read the script below.

JON:
Most things these days / they are online,
They’re doing well / they’re doing fine,
So in this world / why can’t we see,
A new digital currency!

DARREN:
So are there coins for me to buy,
Or is it in the cloud / the sky?

JON:
Bitcoin is the new thing’s name,
It has already got some fame!
But if you ask / how many are there
Well that is decided / by the software

A single bitcoin / is like a block of code
Checking it’s real / through a network’s node,
Store them in / a wallet online,
If it is secure / then you will be fine!

DARREN:
I do not like this bitcoin money,
I do not like it, it seems funny!

JON:
When you buy / or you sell,
Who it’s with, they can’t tell
The network knows / that it’s been done
But not if it’s / for naughty or fun

So whatever you want / there’s something to buy
Pizza, a fish, or a black market eye!

DARREN:
To print your own money / that breaks the law,
Can you copy bitcoins / to make some more?

JON:
You can’t copy bitcoins, that is not fine!
To make more bitcoins, then you must mine!

DARREN:
Well is it easy / for me to mine,
Could I do it / while browsing online?

JON:
On your own / it could take some time,
It is not that easy / for you to mine!
Your computer must think / through really hard sums,
Until a working coin, it becomes!
It tries to come up with / a number that’s right,
And that will take / many-a-long night!

DARREN:
So why would I get bitcoins / what’s in it for me,
A reason to do it / well I just can’t see!

JON:
I see what you mean / why you say that to me,
Come on then let’s go / get a good cup of tea

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