We're going to have a little meet-up at The Highlands Pub in Bispham, just down the road from the convention centre, from 5.30pm onwards. You can get tickets to the show here, and day tickets are a mere £16.
Aside from me, there'll be panels featuring the likes of Ashens, The Oliver Twins, the Spectrum Next team, and Steve Hammond from DMA Designs - plus more old computer and video games than you can rattle your glottis at.
If you'd like to appear here, or you've something you'd like me to give some attention to in our occasional Plug Zone, please send your filthy emails early to this place here: firstname.lastname@example.org
How to unconfuse the confusedness of confusionising confusion?
Is Garfield dead, really dead, as hinted at in 1989's Halloween comic? Is he a ghost cat like in Valse Triste? Or did the artist Jim Davis get fed up one week and try to spook the poo out of his readers?
And, please advise: how to stop the now recurring catty nightmares?
Kthanxbi! (<-Urgh! I'm regressing.....help...me....)
As I've stumbled upon a Facebook message that said some letters are urgently needed, I decided to write one to make up for the fact that sometimes I'm not visiting Digitiser2000 for days and then binging and necro-posting.
I have a chaotic perception of time and space, wondering whether it all could be managed a bit easier, or such difficulties actually help me to be more effective.
As this Friday will be published on the Groundhog Day which, in my mind is cemented with the eponymous movie about being stuck in time, I decided to write this letter about time, so the question will be appropriate as well - what periods of life have you experienced to be longer or faster then they actually were? I especially wonder whether the experience of working on the original Digi went like a minute or was long and satisfying?
I can't really say whether working on Digi felt like it went on a long or short time. It was 10 years, and - I guess - feels like about a decade. That said, the years I was working with Mr Hairs on it - just under four years - feels longer to me than the six-plus years I worked on it without him.
Incidentally, whenever I write "Digi" now my autocorrect wants to change it to "Dini". FFS. Karma.
Press reveal to experience Groundhog Day.
Did you ever play the Minotaur Project games by Llamasoft, and if so, what was your favourite game in the series?
Follow up question, if you came face to face with a minotaur, what would you ask him?
Press reveal to see what I'd ask a minotaur.
Have you ever seen any of the short clips made by Michael Spicer? I'm not sure why but his style of humour reminds me of yours, in a good way.
PLUG ZONE REQUEST! I've decided to separate myself from my sweary/rude Ladybird stuff. To that end I've made a dedicated Twitter and had a site created.
If you'd be so kind as to give it a little mention on the letters I'd greatly appreciate it. Obviously without my name attached please.
Hopefully you've enjoyed some of them so you can give an honest recommendation 😊
I proper LOLled out loud at your hypothetical crime details yesterday!
I had the genuine pleasure of interviewing Matthew Smith a few years ago. Ironically if I had have told him that, a few years earlier, he had been on a knife rampage and shouted about “powerful witches” he would have probably be unable to categorically deny it.
Have you ever committed a hypothetical crime, Sir Biffo?
Thanks for mentioning Super Page 58 on the letters page the other week.
As you said at the time, it’s very much in the process of being redesigned ready for a relaunch and new life of actual bloody updates. I’m guessing we’re 1-2 weeks away at the moment (all the Man Diaries took ages to migrate into the new page templates), but I’m excited to get it up and running again, and start adding all the Digi finds that have been unearthed over the last few years.
A dedicated Digi screenshot archive is high up on my list of new features to add, and I know of a few sites that archive old Teletext pages that I can raid to help build it. If any of your readers know of - or have! - archived Digi content, then it would thoroughly stoke my flue if they could email email@example.com with the details so we can get it built.
I’ve recently been going over your Games of My Years pieces again, helping put myself back in those heady days when Digi was on the air, so I can edit the site where needed, and something occurred to me while I was reading one of them.
It was about the whole Digigate fandango, and specifically the chronology of events, so I hoped that we could piece together when things happened?
I last updated Super Page 58 in July 2001 (I feel embarrassed writing that).
We know that the gutting of Digi’s humour happened some time later, but I can remember the reason behind this final (until very soon) update to my site was due to a house move that my family was making at the time. We wouldn’t actually move until December of that year, but my Mum - who is is an eccentric character at the best of times - decided that she’d cancel our phone line that summer in readiness for the months-off move. It may only have been a few days after that that I updated the site, getting in what I could before I was cut off.
Now, this is where things get hazy, but I started a new job in the September (the week before 9/11, in fact), which was the first where I had my own email. I think I must have emailed you to apologise for my radio silence all summer, and the lack of updates. When you replied, that was when I first heard what was afoot at Teletext, and you made the request for me to take the site down to potentially save yours and Digi’s skin (as futile as that might have sadly turned out to be).
At that point we were still a few months away from moving, and had no internet access at home. I got back from work that night and told Mum I needed to get online urgently - so I ended up unplugging my PC, sticking it in the car, and going round to Mum’s boyfriend’s place, so I could use his phone line to dial in and do the necessary.
I have a vivid memory of my PC teetering on a stack of his magazines (he ran a newsagent), keyboard on my lap, monitor on a nest of tables, and the modem cable just about stretching to the wall outlet.
I dialled in, and hundreds of emails poured through, going back to the last time I’d logged on. I’m pretty sure there was one from you asking about taking the site down too, which of course I hadn’t seen. So it’s just as well I was now in gainful employment with email access so I was in a position to help.
But! What this has made me realise, is that events may have happened earlier than what you describe in Games of My Years.
If you’d had the fateful meeting with the Evil Deputy Features Editor in September/early October 2001, and Digi had been neutered shortly after, then that may have been a few months earlier than you thought. Was it therefore a full year of humourless Digi before it came roaring back? I don’t know. We’d broken our TV remote in the eventual house move, so I had to rely on going round my Dad’s at weekends to catch up after that(!) But it’s interesting to think about how events played out.
How do you remember it? Does any of that sound familiar, or jog any memories?
Anyway, loved the Digi 25th birthday stuff an extraordinary amount, and I should be able to make it to the big birthday do in June - which I’m very excited about - so maybe we can compare notes then.
I’ll keep you posted on the Super Page 58 relaunch - and massive thanks to you for all the support over the years.
It was a properly awful, awful time. The Evil Deputy Features Editor - who was new and, I suspect, trying to prove himself to his bosses - had printed out all sorts of evidence of Digi's absurdity, and been trawling the Internet looking for more. Of course, that led him to the various fan sites.
Which, somewhat ironically, made a mockery of their assertion that Digi's humour "excluded" people and wasn't popular - I can't think of another Teletext page which had even one fan site, let alone several. But there we go. They just wanted excuses to pay me less, basically, because of 9/11. And I guess they figured the best way to do that was to tell me I'd been doing it wrong for 8 years.
Me asking you to remove the site (temporarily as it turned out) was essentially a panic move. I was trying not to lose my entire income...
But anyway. Yep - really hope you can make it to the birthday bash. Super Page 58 was a key part of Digi's story.
Should be some more news on that very soon. There are several projects I'm spinning right now.
If it were guaranteed to be a well made and fun game, what film of all the films of ever would you choose to be bestowed this honour?
I would probably choose Jason and the Argonauts, as it has a fair few locales, a decent array of enemies, and would have Ray H's creations, lovingly recreated.
As to which film I'd liked to see game-o-fied... I 'unno. I'd still like a proper single-player, first-person, Star Wars game - along the lines of Dark Forces. The campaign in Battlefront 2 was awful.
How much freedom is too much freedom? What? You want context? OK fine.
If you are pursuing a new creative endeavour you want control, but you also can't achieve anything entirely on your own so what sort of suggestions are you open to? Who are you happy to take advice from and how do you gain useful perspective on what 'works'?
Was there ever a time when you took the advice of a colleague / collaborator / friend and it worked out better than if you had followed your own idea? Or vice versa.
And, yeah, too many questions, but...does pleasing yourself always trump (bwarp) pleasing others when it comes to a personal creative endeavour?
Case in point... I'm currently working on a new CBBC show, and my script editor is James Cary - a very experienced writer of sitcoms (he wrote Bluestone 42), who has a blog and podcast about writing sitcoms. Even though I've been doing this job for 20 years, I feel I'm learning a lot from him, and he's making my scripts better. Same on 4 O'Clock Club; I've yet to write an episode of that which hasn't been improved by collaborating with the executive producer.
At the same time, I've also written on shows where I feel the input of others has made my scripts worse.
But... that's all very different from doing something which is personal to me, such as Found Footage. For better or worse, that wasn't designed to appeal to a wide audience. It had a very specific intention to it, in terms of the style, and - ultimately - it was meant to be a big splurge of nonsense from the inside of my head.
That's very hard to take notes on, because... really, there wasn't a wrong way of doing it, if that makes sense. It's the difference between a graphic designer being paid to come up with a corporate logo, and - I dunno - somebody painting an abstract or surrealist picture to hang on their own wall. The latter doesn't feel like an appropriate thing to give "notes" on, whereas the former does, but they're both creative in their own way.
Short of having more money to play with, there's almost nothing I'd change about Found Footage. It is what it is; a product of itself, almost.
The sole exception is The Trojan Arse Protocol, because that was deliberately going for a more high-end look, which obviously has parallels to existing things. So in order to achieve that, I was more collaborative than I had been in the previous episodes. That's not to say that everyone on set for those other eps didn't chip in - Steve Horsley and Sanya, my other half, often picked up on things I'd missed. I mean, you wouldn't have had Iain Lee/Kenny Masters doing his "1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10" if it wasn't for her.
Then we have this Digitiser web series I'm working on, which will - at least initially - be more collaborative, because it's going for a magazine show-ish format which is more rigidly formatted. Then I'll probably go away and mess around with it in the edit, but certainly early on I'm working quite closely with Paul Gannon to nail what it is.
Out of nowhere, I suddenly remembered an old Spectrum game I spent many hours playing that I don’t often see mentioned. It was made (I think) by Games Workshop and it was called Battlecars or something similar.
You got to assemble your own Mad Max-esque ‘car’ with armour, weapons etc. and then you ‘battled’ against your opponent in a viewed from the top square arena (can an arena be a square? Maybe not).
My brother and I spent many hours battling our cars against one another with flame throwers and all sorts.
One of the interesting aspects of the game was that when it loaded, it was just the designing bit to add your armour and stuff. Once that was done, you then had to load the rest of the game which would put your designs in the arena. This of course took ages to load. If you then wanted to design a different car I think you had to power the Spectrum off and load the game from the beginning to start again from scratch.
I don’t remember many other games with this part-load idea. Probably because it was a massive faff.
I also remember it coming in a fancy plastic case with some lovely artwork.
Because I am lazy, I have not attempted to look the game up on the internet so I can’t remember much more about it beyond this. I am open to the idea that I have misremembered all of this and my opinion of it being good is ill judged.
Just wondered if you or anybody else remembered having fun with this game like my brother and I apparently did?