Gannon and I did some filming yesterday, and I think you're in for a treat over the next few weeks. It has been a while since just the pair of us did any videos together, and we've given ourselves permission to not always base the vids around video game stuff.
When it comes to the next full series of Digitiser, we've agreed that the focus will be fully on games again, but in terms of generating ideas and content for the twice-weekly mini eps, it just frees us up in all sorts of ways. Inevitably, this meant there were several near-disasters... the first of which you can see on Sunday night.
But anyhow, we've also discussed our plans for that next series. It's important that we offer you something above and beyond the sort of thing we're doing in the weekly eps (and, for that matter, what we did in series 1), so we're planning something very ambitious. Something completely different. Something that will test us all in different ways... But we will need a lot of support from you lot to achieve it.
More on that after the summer. Let's do letters.
If you'd like to apear here, or you've something you'd like me to give some attention to in our occasional Plug Zone, or you've got a picture of a bin you wish to share, please send your filthy emails to this place here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hope you’re doing well this week. Last week I mentioned the psychology person I’m seeing now and I already hate it. Which is SuPeR FuN!!!11!!
Anyway, I experienced a very… Let’s say, interesting day out in Edinburgh. I ventured over by train and visited that National History Museum place to educate and maybe learn something new about retro tech, which I was very excited about. That and they have a very big giant deer skeleton I wanted to try to sketch.
I barely did anything, apart from spotting an old Commodore system, due to a mothereffin’ alarm starting to screech (which my brain did not like) and those strange fire curtains dropping at the entrances to the sections. I am confused??? What happened???
But everyone got evacuated (funny thing here, all the staff got out first and absolutely no staff were getting people out of there... That’s good). It was also pissing it down and, being the big dumbo that I am, I forgot an umbrella. So I just sat in the train station with my slightly soggy sketchbook, the latest Digi video on, and my 3DS and waited for the caffeine to kick in.
Anyway, I assume you want questions, I dunno, but have some anyway.
Nummer eins) What’s your opinion on Pokémon Sword and Shield so far?
Nummer zwei) Bit more serious with this one, but hey. How do you deal with stress/anxiety/the likes? Asking for a friend. :’)
Anyway, thanks again for the positive comments, Biffo. I really appreciate your content and comments and... stuff. Hope you have a great day buddy.
Asho / Ash (@catastroasho)
As is customary in these instances, I must make the joke that I was, of course, 38 at the time.
Pokemon Sword and Shield I know virtually nothing about, but I'm considering getting one of them, as it has been years since I've played a proper Pokemon game.
Stress and anxiety... hmm. That's a tough one to say, because I don't have a technique for dealing with it as such. It's more that I don't actually get anxious. If I do, it's very, very rare. I guess I used to, but there came a time where it sunk into my head that nothing actually matters. What other people think doesn't matter, and what they think or feel is their stuff, not mine, and I can't control that. What happens is going to happen, so I don't waste energy worrying about it.
That isn't something I do consciously, though.
There was a real turning point for me over the past decade. You know how sometimes you make a wish? Like, if you pull a wishbone, or... whatever? Well, I used to wish for big things; I wish I was a millionaire, or I wish my life was better. And at some point, and I didn't realise I was doing it until I'd been doing it for a while, I'd just wish for a nice weekend, or I'd wish that I was going to enjoy the film I had tickets for, or I'd wish that one of my kids had a good day.
The wishes became more about the here-and-now, less self-absorbed and want-my-life-to-change-y. And that's when I knew I was in a better place.
I've mentioned this before, but a book which really changed my life was Homo Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. It really rams home the point that so many of the things we fret about aren't even real. Money, taxes, laws, fashion, international borders... all of it - they're just things people have made up. Also, reading a lot of books by Carl Rogers for my counselling training made a big difference.
I do get stressed though, usually when I've got way too much work on, or I'm worrying about money, or I feel that too many people are making demands of me. And I tend to internalise it, rather than release it, which isn't the healthiest technique. Not least, because it gave me gastritis when I was putting together Digifest a couple of years ago, and I still suffer from it. It flares up when I'm stressed.
I still get exasperated with people. Self-centred behaviour drives me mental, in particular. Self-absorbtion frustrates and angers me, and I want to shake people when they're stuck in a loop of self-pitying, or playing the victim, or being a big baby. That's not really the same thing as stress or anxiety - unless they're putting it on me - but I wish I could be a bit more immediately empathic in those instances. Sometimes, though, people really do just need a good kick up the arse.
But the key for all these issues, ultimately, is that nothing matters other than the moment you're in right now. Not the past, not the future. We can't control any of it, we can't control other people. All you have is now.
I went to Nikki and Bunty's house again and I did a big projectile vomit all over their (carpeted) bathroom at half seven in the morning.
This obviously got me thinking about vomit in video games - especially after you pointed out on twitter the prevalence of poo, vomit and general excretion in the modern toy market. My favourite video game vomit is the Captain on the S.S. Anne in various Pokemon games.
What is your favourite video game vomit? When did you last vomit in real life? Do you have any vomity anecdotes?
The last time I vomited was March. I'm not proud of it, because it was alcohol-related. I'm not a big drinker, but on the last night of the Marillion Weekend I had some beers during the gig, not wanting to go too nuts as we had to travel home from the Netherlands the next morning. Unfortunately, when we got back to our chalet, I ate loads of cheese, crisps, and drank a ridiculous amount of champagne, and felt very drunk and queasy very suddenly.
And, yes, done a vom in the bathroom. I hadn't done that since I was 21.
Anyway, talking of the Marillion Weekend, here's a letter from the gentleman who bought that champagne...
Dear Digitiser Panel,
Whatever happened to the gaming legend that once was Geoff Crammond?
His seminal work of Grand Prix 4 remains in my opinion the best ever gaming rendition of Formula One and regardless of a mod community trying to keep the thing up to date, the franchise died.
Grand Prix 5 was scheduled for an Xbox and console release but this never happened and now Geoff seems to have vanished of planet Earth except for some C++ coding, examining the mating habits of the garden mole.
So my question... what did Digitser have to do with this legend's fall from grace and can it be regained with anything more than an apology?
Love and kisses as always,
I think I met him once, on a trip to the Microprose offices in the mid-90s, where he demonstrated what would've probably been Grand Prix 2. Probably. I have next to no memory of that, beyond a vague recollection of not sharing his enthusiasm for how realistic the game was going to be. Maybe that came across, and it sowed a seed of disillusionment within him, which led ultimately to him quitting the industry. I like to think so.
Also, I know I owe you an email about that immersive theatre thing, but I see that they're only doing dates over the last week in August, when I'm hoping to be away. Which is very annoying.
Yes: I reply to your messages through the Digitiser letters page now.
Greetings Digi' People.
Can you do an in depth feature on chickens in games from years gone by? Chicken characters never seem to get much recognition and the only one in a game that I can think of was in Eternal Champions on the Mega CD. Surely more chicken characters have been in video games, haven't they?
Richard Heath. Pontlottyn, South Wales
I’ve taken delivery of a Tea Prancer mug and given it to the purchasing manager where I work, because of our shared love of tea (although we disagree on which is best; I say PG Tips, she says Yorkshire)
As you can see, she’s happy with the mug.
Unfortunately, I took advantage of getting an actual Tea Prancer and I can’t get the bugger out from the CIO’s desk. We’re getting some very strange looks from the neighbouring creative agency with the noises that are emerging. Plus our biscuit barrel is suspiciously empty.
(Love the show, Digi Live was fantastic).
Good day Lord Bigfoot...
Wow that was some autocorrect right?
Anyhoo, Biffo, sir.
Let me be completely honest here.
Once Digitiser on Teletext came to an end, I had no idea that it eventually lived on as a website. I remember having 1 or 2 things on the Letter Section on teletext. One being “You haven’t lived until you’ve played WarioWare with the Dancing Stage Mario Mix Dance Mat.”
Trust me, it was fucking good fun ok?!
Ok the question I guess... If you could pick any gaming franchise to write the script/story for... what would it be?
With your potty ass humour, I’d reckon Conker would be a great fit for you. Also, keep up the great work on the Channel.
I love you all, especially our beautiful Octavius
All the best,
fellow YouTuber CloudLXXXV
(Cloud L Triple X V)
I'd rather have a crack at something more grounded, like The Last of Us. Anything post-apocalyptic, in fact.
Or Tomb Raider, because I think the character has been ill-served over the last few games. I'm all for making Lara Croft's character more rounded and real, but does she have to be so boring?! She should be the female Indiana Jones! Give her some one-liners! Make her cynical and sarcastic! She's so utterly dull now. All the fun has gone.
I’ve got a serious question this week and it’s unrelated to video games.
I know you like prog rock and related genres, but can you name at least five albums you unconditionally love? It’s a tough one but as a big music fan I like to know these things and can waste a lot of time talking about with other nerds.
Today mine are (they change):
The Clash - London Calling
Metallica - Kill ‘Em All
The Specials - ST
Stiff Little Fingers - Inflammable Material
Choking Victim - No Gods, No Managers
Napalm Death - Scum
Royworld - Man In The Machine
Marillion - F.E.A.R.
Talk Talk - Spirit of Eden
Counting Crows - August And Everything After
Pink Floyd - The Final Cut
Kate Bush - Hounds of Love
In the creation of any video game, a variety of artists are drawn upon for their talents. Writers, artists, composers, programmers, poets, sculptors - just some of the myriad talents combined into a finished game.
However, all these endeavors are converted into a list of numbers. As players, we consume the product, appreciating (or not, as the case may be) the smorgasbord of delights presented to us.
And yet all of our interactions with any game can be summed up as changing some numbers into other numbers. All that work, all that creativity, just to toggle bits.
All videogames are experienced through the focal point of numbers. My question is this - what old school game do you think should get a remake?
While I am at least three weeks late for this, because I either get distracted by work, a lack of sleep or a video game or something, I thought I would share my experience regarding DigiLive.
I remember arriving on the scene just before The Teletext Fringe Event opened. I saw some Teletext-using televisions, something I haven't seen in decades and played a Bomberman style game against some complete (very friendly) strangers. Then I met up with Mentski and followed him to Morrisons for beers.
After I had a few, I started feeling a lot less anxious. I got to say hello to some friendly YouTuber Type People, like Jaws19 and Gaming Muso, and I got to meet up with a lot of people from the lovely community put together by Nikki and Bunty. Like Nikki and Bunty.
Unsurprisingly, they were all very lovely. I think I spent a fair bit of time hanging out in a car park drinking beer and talking to nice people, so even before the main event, I can safely say I had a lovely time.
Then the main event happened. And it was amazing. I am glad other people managed to capture footage of the event, because I think so much amazing happened between The Tribute to Bronk (RIP) Pac-Man For Real, the Antiques Roadshow bit, Sniffing Mario's Pipes (EEEEEEEEE!), the David Braben song (No, it won't escape my mind either), Octavius' tribute song and the whole Clive Sinclair Saga (I LOVE HORSES), it was hard for me to remember all the things what happened. I know I am forgetting something!
The only negative was as soon as the show ended, I needed to hightail it back to the train station to catch the last train home, so I didn't get a chance to say hello to any of the performers at the bar. This may have been for the best though, because I may have just said something awkward and embarrassing like "Hello. I like show". Or something.
To sum up, Had a great day, thank you for making it happen!
El Greenio Screenio
PS. Before the show started, did Mr Safety's Safety Song from Biffovision get played? I vaguely remember it did, but I had spent most of the day in a sunny car park drinking, so I won't rule out imagining it.
Hello Mr Biffoo,
What colour pen do you use when writing?
(Okay, I might have watched too much Chris Sievey/Frank Sidebottom recently but still its a good question).
The amazing youthful looking Daphne Blake (not the scooby doo one)
Just thought you should know that I bought an Enya CD the other day.
Jon Clay. Taunton, Somerset
Anyway. Who buys CDs in 2019?!? Have they become some sort of hipster thing now?
Good Evening Biff Finder General,
I only just got round to watching King Of Kong, the documentary detailing the rivalry between arcade gamers nice guy Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell, the world's number one twerp. So my question is this - do you have a kid's bum wipe moment, a time when you have neglected your real life duties because you are due to get a high score or something like that?
Mine was when I was on support for work and I ignored several phone calls cos I was having really great round on Battlefront. I think I told them I was tending to my sick wife.
Yours in anticipation,
Hi Mr. Biffo,
Following your request for more insights into life on the water, this week we'll be focussing on tunnels.
Tunnels were invented when canal builders were too lazy to go around hills and decided to just go through the middle of them. Typical of pre-Victorian inginuity, they were built by tying a load of rabbits together and telling them there were carrots waiting on the other side. However, this did not work and they instead sent large men down shafts from the top and told them to dig sideways until they met the other large men.
Some tunnels are a few miles long, and take about 45mins to get through. It's a bit like a 2mph but more dangerous version of that Desert Bus game, just with cold, damp, and drippings from above. To recreate the experience I would recommend sitting in a car (at night) in a dark windy spot when it's raining, and wind the windows down a bit, while staring at a single teeny light in the distance.
All tunnels have at least 3 ghosts. Usually these are people who've died in the tunnel at somepoint (perhaps by hitting their head and falling in and drowning, or having the life literally squeezed out of every orifice in a construction mishap).
It's good to know however that they do tend to work in shifts (some tunnels get quite busy in the summer months), and they can be reassigned from a less popular tunnel to another one during the holiday season.
Typical tunnel ghost work involves hair pulling, making spooky noises, and farting talcom powder into unsuspecting boater's faces, but it is possible to avoid these supernatural nuisences by learning from video games!
In Earthbound, you progress through a haunted tunnel by simply playing loud music as you go through. The same Is true for boat tunnels, and I can happily say that so far I've yet to have my hair teased, or been perturbed by strange noises, and my face is talcom fart-free!
These days people drive through using 'engines' (part of the fun there is trying to keep ahead of the exhaust cloud you're creating (which is also being drawn to the exit) and hoping you don't get gassed!), but in the olden days they'd attach legs to the boat (legging) and it'd walk through, or they'd just throw the horses in and make them swim ahead.
So there's some sorely needed educational content for your readers, and everyday advice that be can applied to almost any situation. Plus, I know you enjoy art so here's an image of what tunnels look like when they think no one is looking, you can even see the horrors inside!
There's no earthly way of knowing
Which direction we are going
There's no knowing where we're rowing
Or which way the river's flowing...
421) Due to Rockstar & Take Two's 'creative' accounting procedures (allegedly), does this render their in-game satire toothless? It strikes me that, as with so many before them, they like to act like outsiders but behave just like any other rich company.
422) What do you think have been the biggest stories in computer games? Gamer Gate is surely one, but what are the others, not necessarily scandals, that define computer games journalism?
423) Could it be argued that, because of the games he developed, but also due to the engines that he was primarily responsible for, John Carmack is the single most influential person in computer games history?
424) On a related note, whom would you regard as the most influential woman in computer games history and why?
425) In the spirit of Playstation's recent Twitter question, what are your favourite games for each Playstation console?
I will split mine between my favourites and those which I would most associate with each console.
PS1 - WipEout 2097
PS2 - Metal Gear Solid 2
PSP - God of War: Chains of Olympus
PS3 - Bayonetta
PS Vita - Gravity Rush
PS4 - The Witcher 3
PS VR - Rez Infinite
PS1 - Gran Turismo (just)
PS2 - Shadow of the Colossus
PSP - Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
PS3 - The Last of Us
PS Vita - Lumines Electronic Symphony
PS4 - Horizon Zero Dawn
PS VR - Blood and Truth
There are so many I could choose instead but they should do. I honestly believe that Sony has the most diverse range of good games across its consoles.
422) I'm loathe to call out any particular gaming journalism stories (because most of the ones I can think of ARE scandals). The first one that springs to mind is Doritosgate, but that got taken up by the Gamergate cause. Back in Digi's heyday we often called out our fellow journos, and I feel a bit guilty now that we in some way contributed to sowing the seeds of that whole "fake news" thing.
423) John Carmack? He's definitely influential, but I dunno about being the most influential. Tomohiro Nishikado deserves way more credit; he invented Space Invaders, and rarely even gets mentioned.
424) Blimey. It says a lot that I'm struggling to answer that question. Roberta Williams, for sure. And I hope Amy Hennig becomes influential, because lots of games could benefit from her work.
425) Okay... let me see... I suspect it'll be a Naughty Dog-fest...
PS1 - Destruction Derby
PS2 - Jak 3
PS3 - The Last of Us
PS Vita - Uncharted: Golden Abyss
PS4 - Red Dead Redemption 2
PSVR - Superhot
So, I finally caved and bought myself a Switch. I've always thought Nintendo are the tippy-toppest, and love pretty much everything they do, so it's weird that such a fanboy like moi is so late to the party. But, you know, money doesn't just pop out of question mark boxes in real life, and these bad boys are not cheap...
But man oh man do I love this thing! I had assumed I would never undock it from the telly, but it actually does work great as a handheld too. And everything has that quality Nintendo feel. It's great. Not a fan of Luigi's stupid patronising mustache face asking if I need help when I keep dying on Mario Maker, but that's on me I guess.
So, obviously I'll be buying all the standard first party game choices (eventually), but what would you recommend, indie download-wise? I know you weren't into Cadence of Hyrule, but I love me some rythym-game action AND Zelda, so I'm really enjoying that. Especially as it (and the Switch in general) seems geared to quick gaming bursts while I wait for tea to cook or whatever.
But yeah, the e-shop is a bit overwhelming, just for the sheer volume of things on there, so any kind of a steer would be aces. Maybe a top 5? Or 3? Or none. You're the boss.
Also: loving the variety we're getting from the Digi Minis. Keep 'em coming!
Hello Mr Biffo. I wish to tell your readership about my brand spankingly new Facebook Page. Hidden Gems Games Media where we tell you things about games you've never heard of and probably should.
We also do that there live streaming and Youtubey that all the kids like these days. Bare with us mind all this fangled new technology and us old sods dont mix. "LOL", as the young 'uns say. Hit me up like and subscribe and share with your grandparents.
An old sod trying to learn new tricks
And with that? That's the end of this week's letters! New video Sunday, don't forget. It's an explosive one...