Next Level Dundee: The Official Artwork

7 08 2009

Next Level Dundee PosterLooking good guys! Now, if you are interested in digitla media but have yet to take that first, bold step into the sector or perhaps you are thinking about taking a univeristy or college course in the digital arts, then sign up to this superb event and work alongside some of the biggest names in Scottish digital media. This could be your dream ticket.

Head over to to apply for free now!

Ink Media will be there to check out what teams have been creating, best of luck to all entrants when the event comes around!


Next Level Dundee: Scotland’s biggest digital media jam to encourage creativity and collaboration

7 08 2009

Next Level Dundee Logo

Entry for participants of Scotland’s largest digital media jam now open

Dundee 07 August 2009 – Have you got what it takes to leave a lasting impression on the big players in Scottish digital media? Next Level Dundee, Scotland’s newest digital media event has today opened its doors to a new round of participants for its highly anticipated mixed media project. The event, running from Monday 7th to Friday the 11th of September will see several teams consisting of members of the public and students operating outside the digital media sector, coming together to collaborate on innovative new projects that meet a pre-determined brief.

These hopefuls will work closely with mentors and industry experts comprised of Scotland’s most prominent digital media players and academics, drawing on their expertise and furthering their own skills and knowledge of the sector. The event is being supported by some of Tayside’s key players in digital media, including game developers Realtime Worlds, Cohort Studios, Proper Games and Electric Top Hat alongside web design agency Wangbar, Dundee Contemporary Arts and The University of Abertay Dundee.

Read the rest of this entry »

BRB & Guitar Solos Forged in Hell

3 06 2009

It’s been a crazy week here at Ink Media HQ, with a change of office and lots of new business on the go. Unfortunately, we’re now internet-less for the next week, which is a major inconvenience but hey we’ll get through it right?

We have a major new project in the works with a shiny new client that we’ll be able to announce next week (it’s a biggie!), but until then, please enjoy Dave’s interview with Guitar Hero Metallica developer Neversoft, as published on

…then buy the game, it’s superb! \m/

Interview: Neversoft talk Guitar Hero Metallica


When California-based developer Neversoft announced it was working on a version of Guitar Hero based entirely on the rise and rise of Platinum selling rock band Aerosmith, fans of the series didn’t quite know what to expect. Some bemoaned the choice of band and got snippy because their favourite band wasn’t the focus of the game, while others saw a very clever progression of the series.

The game turned out brilliantly, delivering an in-depth charting of the group’s rise to fame, spanning their 14 album discography and including some great input from the band members. The template was now set for other bands to follow suit and Metallica, who had been quite unsuccessfully looking for the perfect video game crossover for years, had finally found their way to rock out in game form

Marrying Guitar Hero and Metallica really is a match made in heaven. You have a band that has sold an estimated 100 million records since forming in 1981 and penned some of the most influential and memorable metal tunes in history. Love them or loathe them, there’s simply no arguing that are the natural fit for the Guitar Hero treatment.

It all came about after a rather embarrassing sounding Metallica game was understandably canned. Lead Designer at Neversoft Alan Flores explains how it happened: “Metallica were very interested in doing their own video game. A few years back they had a deal to make a car combat game based on the band, but the deal fell through. Then, Guitar Hero got onto their radar because James (Hetfield’s) and Lars (Ulrich’s) kids played it and they saw what a cool way it was to introduce new people to their music. So, around the time we were finishing up Guitar Hero Aerosmith someone from Activision showed the game to Metallica and they saw what we could do if we focused a game on a band and they were totally on board.”

The deal was done and the game was set to be an epic compilation of some truly classic tracks that would eventually include 28 Metallica master recordings and 21 songs from guest acts, but with such a diverse roster to choose from, the team had to make some painful decisions regarding the final set list.

Alan explains, “It was very hard making those last few selections, especially for the guys in Metallica. For the first bunch of songs it’s really quite easy. Of course we are going to include classics like “Seek and Destroy,” “Creeping Death” and “Master of Puppets,” but when we got down to the point where we could only have two more songs and the Metallica guys had these five songs they really wanted in the game, it was tough. Metallica music is very personal to those guys. What might not be a big “hit” or a very well known song to us sometimes has a deep personal meaning to Lars and James, for example. I think, in the end, we wound up with an absolutely killer set list of not just great Metallica songs, but also great guest artists.”

Speaking of guest acts, the game includes a great range of artists including Mastodon, Slayer, Queen, Machine Head and System of a Down plus a download pack of Metallica’s latest album Death Magnetic. All of the featured groups are personal favourites of the band and most have shared a stage with them at some point over the years. Also, the venues for each stage are Neversoft interpretations of real-life locations that the band have played.

Needless to say, the Neversoft team are all big fans of the band and this shows throughout the game from start to finish. Alan explains how his team got the look and feel of the title nailed down, “We interviewed Metallica and got so much great information out of them. They told us about important moments on stage and venues they love to play. For example, they felt that we just had to include Donnington Park in the game and they also really wanted it to be one of the last venues because they felt like once they made it there, they had really made it. We also did full band motion capture for a couple of days recording the six songs that are played in each round. The band was really into it and I think it shows in their in-game performances. They’re not just faking it, they are really giving a full on performance.”

“Full on” is fitting as the way the band members move on stage is comprised of easily the slickest animation in a Guitar Hero game yet. For those who feel that this is something of a cash cow, think again, this is perhaps the most comprehensive package of tunes in the series so far, with the look, atmosphere and pacing that fans of heavy metal are sure to enjoy. Perhaps this is why the developer decided to include an all new ‘Expert+’ mode for drummers who love to hammer their kits to death.

Alan gives an insight into this brutal difficulty setting, “Expert+ was included in Guitar Hero Metallica because it is the only way to do Metallica music correctly on the drums. There are so many songs with double bass so if we didn’t have a double bass pedal we just wouldn’t be able to track the music correctly. The Guitar Hero fan base is definitely getting better at playing the game but there are some really tough songs in Guitar Hero Metallica. Don’t get me wrong, the game is still totally accessible to new and casual players who play on beginner, easy and medium, but if you are playing Expert or Expert+ on drums the game is going to kick your butt at the end. Watch someone try and play Slayer’s “War Ensemble” on Expert+ drums sometime. It’s insane!”

While the Guitar Hero series is a master class in how to make an accessible and vastly enjoyable music-based game, this latest instalment really does ramp things up to eleven. Everything from note placement, the visuals and the track list is faultless, with some truly iconic air guitar moments and rock karaoke gold now yours to perform. Expect parties and bedrooms across the country to get that little bit louder from now on.

SquareGo and Gamestation Team up In March

26 02 2009

squarego-new-logoFree Magazines Rolling Out Across All Scottish Stores

Edinburgh – 2009 SquareGo
, the jargon-free video game magazine has today secured a deal with games retail giant Gamestation that will see 25,000 readers able to get a free dose of videogames information from all 25 Scottish stores throughout March.

The announcement comes as the magazine gears up for its sixth issue, which will be its biggest and best yet, featuring  all-new Gamestation-sponsored release lists and new budget gamer guide ‘Bargain/Bin’. In its short six-month history, SquareGo has achieved a massive cult following online with its mix of jargon-free articles, off-beat humour and original features such as the insightful ‘Debate This!’ and retrospective ‘For the Love of…’ series.

Launching at the 2008 Edinburgh interactive Festival, the magazine pulls together many of Scotland’s best unsung heroes of gaming critique, including managing editor Josh Wilson who conceptualised and launched the publication from scratch and Games Media Award-winning features editor, Dave Cook.

Managing editor Josh Wilson said: “The editorial team are extremely excited at the prospect of our magazine being stocked by Gamestation. The chain successfully remedied the daunting game shopping experience for parents and casual gamers, young and old, with its charismatic and unique spin on the game store. I feel that this, coupled with SquareGo’s accessible and plain English content, we can speak out to their customers and keep them informed about gaming news in ways other, jargon-heavy magazines simply can’t.”

Gamestation’s Marketing Coordinator Dean Shaw said: “We are really excited to be supporting Square-Go. Being such avid gamers themselves, it was a natural fit and we are happy to offer our customers this great magazine!”

The magazine is now calling on companies to get in touch regarding advertisements. With highly competitive pricing structures and a readership of 25,000+ in March alone, the magazine urges all interested companies, even those out-with the gaming to get in touch early to secure their place.

For further advert space queries, please contact the sales team at


For press information, please contact:
Dave Cook / 0131 557 2183 / 07525358281 /
Josh Wilson / 07929381197 /

About SquareGo

The newest independent gaming magazine, catering for gamers of all backgrounds and skill levels. Distancing itself from using technical terms and jargon, stockist and reader feedback since the publication’s launch in August 2008 has been superb.

Originally launching with a distribution of 3,500 free copies across Edinburgh, 5,000 copies currently make their way to over 25 entertainment retailers across the capital, Glasgow, Dundee, Perth and Sterling including Game, Gamestation, HMV, Blockbuster, Chips, indie stores and various pubs and cafes.

In February 2009, the magazine secured a deal with games retailer Gamestation, which will stock over 10,000 copies across all 25 Scottish stores throughout March 2009. The publication has its sights set on the wider UK audience with national interest in the print version hitting ever-growing peaks thanks to the internet-distributed digital edition being downloaded well over 2,000 times.

SquareGo’s website, features additional daily news, reviews and features. Currently enjoying an average of 12,000 unique web hits a month, it has steadily built up a base of regular visitors.

Magazine content is also featured in the game section of free Scottish culture magazine The Skinny, currently enjoying a circulation of over 33,000 copies and 46,000 unique web hits per month. For more information, please visit

‘Tweeting’ marvellous! – It’s the edtwestival

13 02 2009


Last night was definitely something of a first for many people. Venues across the UK played host to the first in what will no doubt be a long line of ‘Twestivals’. It really is a brilliant concept, where members of the ‘not quite a blog-not quite a networking site’ Twitter got together to meet face to face, some for the first time, despite having exchanged tweets for a long while.

To be honest, I had no idea what to expect, other than it was a charity event to raise funds for clean water pumps in Africa (I’m happy to add that they exceeded their quota for the evening!) and that there would be live music and an awful lot of tweeting.

A networking event at its core, patrons were given those stereotypical ‘Hi My Name Is…’ badges, but instead of your own name of course, you had your Twitter username, followed by instructions of how to tweet your interactions throughout the evening. Displayed in the venue’s main bar was a giant map of people’s interactions throughout the evening, who they met, when they met them, who met the most people (not ideal if you’re ‘billy-no-mates’)

Attendees could even tweet to the Twestival’s live feed, displayed on screens around the venue, people could comment on the evening’s events. Once the charity raffle had been drawn, the cries of ‘shenanigans’ started flooding in from tweeters, disgruntled that they were going home empty-handed.

The winning tickets were all orange and in the 300’s mind you……

Twestival is really a rare thing. The days of networking events full of cliques and people standing at opposite sides of the room are surely a thing of the past, as this event was cheerful and actively encouraging strangers to interact with Twitter as the platform.

Let’s hope the event regular and not just an annual occasion. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some tweeting to do…

(oh and incase you were wondering, my twitter username is davescook feel free to add me for video game news and PR tidbits)

Welcome aboard: Interactive Tayside

4 02 2009


Ink Media has today secured Interactive Tayside as a client, starting with a premier release on behalf of member business, prominent marketing company Avian, which will be going out in the coming weeks.

At the heart of the digital media landscape in the region, Interactive Tayside is a key player in the sector, raising the profile of emerging and established companies.

We look forward to assisting the organisation with its media relations going forward. Please check back here regularly for news items, press releases and an insight into Interactive Tayside’s current activity.

Managing Director, Dave Cook

About Interactive Tayside (source:

Interactive Tayside is a partnership between public, private and academic sectors to develop and promote Tayside’s digital media industry. Digital media represents a key part of Tayside’s economy and through Interactive Tayside, a local delivery mechanism has been established that aims to build the digital media industry in the area, encourage higher levels of collaboration between businesses and with academia, develop new commercial opportunities and promote the high-quality skills and talents of the area’s digital media practitioners to a wide audience.

Historically, Tayside has always been a hot-bed of creative talent, particularly in the publishing, design and music industries and the area has always been renowned as a breeding ground for innovation and skills.

Today, Tayside continues to enjoy a vibrant and rapidly expanding cluster of businesses, organisations and individuals engaged in digital media and creative industries sectors. There are over 350 businesses operating in the area of digital media in Tayside, employing over 3,300 people and generating a combined annual turnover in excess of £185 million.  The sector has experienced growth in employment of 225% since the year 2000 and a further two thousand jobs are expected to be created in the sector within the next 3 years (by 2010).

The area’s 2 universities and 3 further education colleges carry out leading edge research and deliver innovative and high quality teaching across a wide range of digital media related subjects.  Every year, over 900 students, from over 50 different nationalities, graduate in digital media disciplines from the region’s higher and further education institutions.

Computer games and electronic entertainment, mobile platform development, software development, animation, graphic design, publishing and music and just some of the specialisms in which Tayside companies excel.

The region is home to many exciting digital media companies including Scotland’s largest games development studio, Realtime Worlds, BAFTA Award winning mobile development studio Dynamo Games, 2d and 3d animation studio, Ink Digital, and also the largest internet service provider in Scotland, ScotlandOnLine.  Tayside’s success stories in these industries are numerous.

Though Interactive Tayside, liason between businesses, academic institutions and support agencies is actively encouraged, creating a stimulating environment in which ‘start-ups’ and established companies alike can quickly translate ideas into commerical reality.

In addition to this informative, regularly updated website ofering all the latest news on Tayside’s digital media industry, Interactive Tayside offers a regular events programme; events that are free and open to everyone, covering a variety of topics relevant to the digital media industries and affording ample opportunity for attendees to network informally with like-minded individuals.  Be sure to sign up for our newsletter so as not to miss out on all of the region’s digital media news and invites to our events.

Enterprise is actively encouraged in Tayside by a flexible and dynamic support structure. Everything you need to develop your business or turn ideas into reality is available here from a variety of institutional and commerical sources. As you would expect from a centre with a renowned academic reputation, Research and Development and training and skills are thick on the ground for large and small businesses. With this support, Tayside continues to be a rich source of intellectual capital, media content and commercial opportunity.

The vision for the digital media industry in Tayside is to become ever more renowned for the standard of its creative and technical talents and skills, internationally recognised for the quality of its products and level of innovation, globally networked, and make an every increasing contribution to the economy of the Tayside area and Scotland as a whole – establishing Tayside further as an international centre of excellence in digital media.

Square-Go: An Insight

29 01 2009

I must confess that I live something of a double life. Aspiring PR consultant by day, jack-of-all-trades video game journalist by night.

While I’m now focusing about 99.9 per cent of my efforts on this sparkling new and, of course, exciting media relations company, It’s only right to provide an insight into the other things I do when I’m not helping game companies and others get their message out to the masses.

Any fellow Scots reading this will of course know of The Scotsman newspaper. If you pick one up on a Saturday, check out the inside back page of the Critique supplement. This is where my award-winning games column lives. I’ve been penning this legendary scribe for just over a year now and I even won a Games Media Award for best regional columnist for my trouble.

-Not bad for a 250-word square I hope you will agree 🙂

I also work as features editor for another Scottish publication; Independent, game magazine Square-Go, which I also helped conceptualise and launch.

It’s a new, rapidly growing publication and, while I’ll be the first to openly admit it needs many a kink ironed out, it’s definitely well on it’s way.

If you would like to bookmark my article feed, please visit:

Or, if you would like to RSS feed all articles, please add this link to your Netvibes or other feed provider:

Many thanks and as always, feedback is appreciated,

Dave Cook, MD