Look - there it is up there!
And talking of me and Ashens, you can see us both on stage next month, along with Paul Gannon and Larry Bundy Jr, in a very special Digitiser edition of Steve McNeil's Video Game Game Show Show. It's an interactive evening of nonsense, and will feature myself, Stuart, and my Digi bredrin battling against one another on a bunch of old games.
I went to one of Steve's shows a couple of weeks ago, and the way they use the technology to let the audience play along is quite unlike anything else. Please come along on the 18th June if you can. Tickets here.
Sadly (for you, but not us) Digitiser Live is now sold out, but at least you now have a second chance to see us in The Flesh...
Let's do a letters page.
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 dank emails to this place here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Digitiser. You passed on when I was at university. I missed you like:
- A 5'6" man in white chinos, white slip-ons and a white muscle top (with a Chinese dragon on the back), trying to chat up your girlfriend.
- Everybody who liked dance music, suddenly thinking they know guitar music because of Blur and/or Oasis... but failing to appreciate Pre-Darkside Floyd.
- Relaxing in a gentleman's way to Eurotrash on a 14 inch colour portable, and achieving maximum relaxation just as the article changed to some wrinkly old German nude dude.
- Babylon Zoo.
- Gangs of blokes in Nightclubs in either black shirt and white trousers, or white shirt and black trousers, looking like a human embodiment of Othello, the classic game.
- Yelling "Raiden Wins....Flawless Victory....Fatality" whenever my old English teacher (Mr Rawdin) gave somebody a proper bellicose dress down.
- Triple denim and an Axl Rose haircut being an outfit that interested the fairer sex.
- MTV thinking it was the centre of the world.
- Making up lyrics to the Mario Kart SNES music, all of them focusing on how Barry Hayles was generally failing at life, until Barry unleashed a torrent of invective and went home.
- Colin Culk.
- Other things from the 90s that are burned into my memory.
Glad you're ok. If you need me to help you with your bins, or fetch a paper for you or something. Just ask.
Also: I wish I'd been able to make that Mr Rawdin/Raiden joke. At my school I had a teacher called Mr Vain, but it was some years before that song came out. That's a real big shame, not least because he had floppy hair and wore a cravat.
Press reveal to see what John The Baptist has to say about all this:
Hello. On Barshens this week you mentioned that teletext still works somewhere in Scandinavia. Well, for example, it still works here in Finland, on some channels.
In fact, you can browse YLE:s (tax-paid TV) teletext online. Here's the link: https://yle.fi/aihe/tekstitv
Museum of Teletext Art MUTA is on page 805, by the way.
Hope this is of some interest to you, thanks for the great content and keep up the good work.
I've mentioned about being old before, but I'm 48, I've played video games most of my life so far, and I've never killed anyone (that I know about ). Amazing isn't it?
I was wondering: have you killed anyone?
Daph Blake xx
It is with much regret that I have to announce that I won't be able to attend the live Digi thing due to further surgery 'down below' (that means my foot, and not my tallywhacker or something).
It did get me wondering though - what's the feasibility of also making it a live stream (your show, not my surgery)? The hospital I'll be staying in has got pretty good free broadband so at least I can sort of watch it live.
I don't really have a lot more to write about today so with that said I'm going to go down to the 7/11 Co-op and buy an uncut loaf of bread and a big bottle of pop. Living the dream!
Your forever ill friend,
Also, I misread the first sentence as "Father Surgery". Press reveal to get a visit from him.
This is Mr.J. It’s recently come to my attention that Mr.S (the wife) has been writing to you about life on a boat among other things. I am now starting to think he has gone mad.
I say that because he now wants to dress me up as a dog (not gonna happen by the way, in public at least). He’s also Googling gas masks saying he’s going to dress up as ‘The Man’s Daddy’ for Halloween.
I fear for our poor elderly neighbours if they are to witness this bizarre and disturbing creation, and he also keeps shouting ‘cat tease’ everytime he goes through the toilet door.
I hope the Man’s Daddy has a meet and greet at Digi Live, so that Mr.S (the wife) can get this twisted obsession out of his system and we can finally get back to some kind of normality, although please have #metoo ready in case he decides to try and stroke his hose.
Mr.J (the wife)
Hallo Spaceboy (Mr Biffo)!
Very much enjoying your recent extra-Digi excursions. The Barshens video was a ‘hoot’, and precisely the amount of fun I suspected it would be. Specifically: lots of fun.
Among the various highlights, the one that stood out most to me was your story about your schoolfriend calling you a ‘scrotum’, and you later calling your Dad one as a result, not knowing what it meant. I’m probably far from unique in saying that a very similar thing happened to me, and it jogged this memory.
I must have been about 11 or 12, and a friend at school called me a ‘dildo’. Like you, this amused me no end - not knowing the meaning, it was just a funny word - so at the first opportunity I called my dad a dildo as well.
I can remember the scene vividly. There was an awkward pause where he didn’t respond, just had this pained expression on his face, and then said “You shouldn’t call people that”.
“Why, what is it?”, I replied.
Another agonising pause, and then the answer:
“It’s something... women... have.”
And that was as much as far as he was prepared to elaborate. I guess I just accepted it - probably thinking it was a body part or something - and didn’t think of it again.
This came not long after the previous Christmas, when I’d visibly shocked him and my uncle by referring to a single upturned pork pie amongst a plate of right-side-up pork pies, as having had a “pork-spasm”. I really wasn’t expecting the reaction that I got. There was a bit of an atmosphere in the room after that, and no one ever said why...
Talking of dads, is yours going to watch Watford in the FA Cup Final at Wembley next weekend? It amused me to think that he might try to get you to ask for your old job on the scoreboard back, so you could make the score read “Watford 10, Manchester City 1” (we should be realistic, City will score) or something. Or, more likely as it’s you, “GOAL! STINK PENIS!”
Hope he enjoys the day regardless.
One last thing - the launch of the Super Page 58 Digi screenshot archive is now mere days away. I can hardly believe it’s nearing completion after all these months working on it, but it’s true. Interested parties should keep an eye on @superpage58 on Twitter for the imminent launch announcement. I hope everyone enjoys having a good ol’ look round it!
Talking of dads and dildos, one of the most vivid memories I have from childhood is of my dad finding a massive dildo in our front garden; it was, as I remember it, white, about two foot long, with veins on it, and he brought it into the house and put it in the kitchen sink. For some reason.
Given that I was so young at the time, I worry my memory of the context has been distorted, so I've never quite had the nerve to ask why he didn't just take it straight to the bin.
Well done on the archive though, Bellston. You are a mighty frond!
Dr Mr. B'fo,
I have two questions.
First question: Once, some years ago (could be a lot of years ago, not sure) I was channel hopping and I paused momentarily on an episode of Sooty just in time to catch Sweep despairing that there was "holes in all the walls and cheese all over my face". This struck me as highly amusing, indeed I've never forgotten it. Recently I learn that you've written for the Sooty show. Were you responsible for this line?
Second question: Would you, have you, might you like to, ever aspired to writing a novel or a movie or anything like that?
Sorry neither of these questions are about video games. Hang on, I'll come up with something...
You know what game I liked? Interstate '76 on the PC. As I recall the gameplay was rubbish and hard and frustrating but the soundtrack was amazing and all I wanted to do was drive a muscle car through the desert for hours while chunky polygonal mountains constantly redrew themselves in the near distance. But that's not a question, is it?
All my love,
Second question: Well, I wrote Pudsey The Dog The Movie, of course, which must've been a movie, because it had "movie" in the title. I also wrote a script some years back, which - on a whim - I submitted to some Hollywood screenwriting competition and won. My prize was to - briefly - have a proper Hollywood agent.
And when I say "proper Hollywood agent" I mean it as in everything you've heard about Hollywood being insane is true, and the experience put me off ever wanting to work there.
Would I write another film script? Maybe. But the thing which discourages me is the development period, then the endless search for funding, and the constant knife-edge that film production rests on, which means the plug can get pulled at any point.
Life's too short for all that. I'd rather try and fund something myself, and direct it myself, having loved the experience of doing The Trojan Arse Protocol. Which may be something I try and do in the not-too-distant.
I've had ideas for novels, but I'm not sure I've got the patience to write one. I find writing scripts much easier, for some reason. Which is ridiculous, as they take loads of time to write too.
But never say never. Maybe when I'm too old to make video things.
I saw you were requesting letters and thought it might be an opportunity for squalid self promotion. Most of my YouTube channel is unlikely to interest you but recently I have been making generative music with a module that emulates Pong (not the famous stench). The hope is that they function as ASMR but I seem to have only the sketchiest handle on how to give people "the tingles".
I suppose I should try to pretend that I have something relevant to Digitiser for you. Alright. You hate the term "roguelike" but what is your favorite "game that is similar in appearance and structure to
My wife thinks I'm a pervert.
Favourite Rogue-esque game? Citadel on the BBC Micro. WEREN'T EXPECTING THAT WERE YOU?!?!
I was recently at Manchester Play Expo where they had a panel on 35 years of Jet Set Willy, possibly my favourite videogame of all time (three-way deathmatch between that, Wizkid and Kid Chameleon), and they talked about some of the copious fan edits that have been made over the years and showed them off.
I've been in the JSW editing community for twenty years now, and I was immediately aware that a bunch of these games were really dependent on - and treated as normal playing mechanics like walking or jumping - exploiting flaws in the game engine to do things like making Willy fall through the floor.
I spent most of the next day with a deep unfulfilled desire to find someone, anyone, to apologise to on behalf of the insular and counter-intuitive thinking of the edit community especially in the early 2000s. What do you reckon? Is exploiting weirdness in game engines a cool trick in game mods that expands the possibility of what you can do, or just a dick move?
Sedric and Charlie
Anyhow... modding games to exploit flaws? Nothing wrong with that. Why would there be? If it's there in the original game then it's up for grabs, surely?
346) Despite it being one of my favourite games then and now, the original Deus Ex ruined many other FPS games for me. The combination of skills and abilities with elements that are ubiquitous now, such as individual target areas on NPCs was incredible.
I remember distinctly going back to Red Faction, which I had been enjoying, and being really put off it by the fact that headshots counted the same as shooting someone's foot. It wasn't perfect, I admit - the story was poor and is an area where the modern versions are clearly superior.
Also, unlike Red Faction, the destructible elements were clearly plot progression devices. On that note, has any great game ruined other genuinely good games of the same type for you?
347) In my opinion, Days Gone is a good, but not great game. Perhaps it would have been great 3 years ago? Nevertheless I do feel that some of the more popular games websites have some kind of agenda against the game.
Some of the criticism it has received is justified e.g. it is not especially original in story, setting nor mechanics but some of it has nothing to do with the game. For example the unintentionally funny review from a major site, which claimed that they found it 'difficult' to play through the game as 'another white dude.' Was it really?
Even if true, that's hardly the game's fault. Of course, any reviewer should write whatever they want (without abuse - although I hope that goes without saying), but it does seem that a groupthink is forming in major outlets - both positive and negative. In fact sometimes it seems that many game critics don't actually like computer games.
I hope that I don't need to say this, but more, genuine, diversity in games on and off-screen is a good thing. That is, I suppose, a really roundabout way of asking if you have any examples (names removed if you prefer) of when a game has been given a bad review that is not based on the game's merits.
348) Speaking of games reviews, it's often said that it is one person's opinion and thus doesn't reflect the view of the magazine/website. While I agree, it is hard to avoid that feeling of only one staff member reviews each game. This can be remedied, if one feels it should be, by using the Famitsu 'overall' system or indeed Edge's anonymous ones. What is your opinion of the Famitsu and Edge review systems?
349) Which developer do you feel has the bigger legacy in computer games, LucasArts or Sierra?
350) What, other than price, would put you off a streaming games service, assuming that it had most/all of the games you wanted to play available?
347) Back in the day, I was always taken aback by truly bad reviews in some of the bigger-selling games magazines, because most games rarely got below 70%. I can't think of specific examples, but whenever I saw one I'd just think "Ah, the PR person wasn't doing their job there"... or "Who are they upset with?".
348) I don't like anonymous reviews - and with hindsight I wouldn't have made Digi's reviews anonymous - because all opinions are personal. There are lots of games I don't like, but unless they're broken in some fundamental way, then I've come to accept that they're just not for me.
You obviously can't preface each review with "This is just what I feel" - because that should be a given - but I honestly believe there are very few "bad" games... just games that appeal to different people in different ways.
349) That's a tough one to answer. That said, much as I loved Sierra's games I see less of their influence today. LucasArts' output was more varied.
350) Whether or not it works. That's the big question at the minute with streaming; the amount of lag. One of my kids recently signed up for a Shadow computer account, and claims it works great, so maybe all this fuss and doomsaying is for nothing? Dunno.
Am I late in thinking Rare's Xbox title "Grabbed By The Ghoulies" is a euphemism for grabbing someone's crotch? I've lived and worked in the New Jersey/Philly/New York City area for most of my life, and I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't already part of our slang.
"What happened when you ran into that shmuck?"
"Ay, I grabbed em the ghoulies."
"And then what did the jagoff do?"
"That jabroni sped out of that jawn like he was in the North side at 3am!"
Love what you do, and take care!
13) This past week at Play Expo I picked up a copy of Ghost in the Shell on the PS1. It is a marvellous title, I forgot how clunky third-person shoot-em-up controls were back in the PS1 days, but it has a weird charm to it too.
What games do you like from eras gone by which control weirdly in comparison to similar titles in the present day, but still hold up gameplay-wise today?
14) Why has "fun" become such a dirty word in video games journalism and promotion?
15) Do you think a show like GamesMaster could be made in the present day and still garner an audience? And if it would require format changes in order to actually get an audience in the present day, what changes would you make (assuming the show had an average game show budget for 2019)?
14) I don't know. I mean, it's still there - Nintendo and indie developers in particular have held onto the controversial idea that games should be fun. But then you look at most triple-A releases on the Xbox One and PS4 and they're all achingly po-faced. For me, it's the influence of cinema; too many developers want to be making films rather than games.
15) I do think it'd work still. Traditional broadcasting doesn't have the audience it once did, but there's definitely still an audience for a proper gaming magazine show. What would I change? You're asking me?!
Digitiser The Show was close to what I'd want to see. It wasn't perfect, and we had relatively little money, but I always felt you have to bring the games into the real world somehow; watching people play games is fine, but as part of a TV format it just sucks the life out of a show, no matter how many cheering kids you have.
If I was being paid to suppress my own tastes, and make something for a wider audience, I'd obviously tone down some of the more bizarre elements of Digi, but with a bigger budget I'd still try and bring games to life in a physical, tangible, way. Then I'd mix that up with features and location stuff (something I wish we'd done more of on Series 1, and would like to include in Series 2).
Also, you obviously need hosts who can engage an audience in their own right, whatever they're talking about.
Just as I don't think playing games works terribly well on TV - at least, not if they're just sitting down holding a controller - something I've had to think about for Digi Live is how to transfer the show to a live setting with an audience. What's good for one medium or format isn't necessarily going to work in another.
First off: kudos on selling out Digitiser Live. If the actual event is as much fun as you seem to be having setting it all up, I'm sure it will be an excellently ridiculous time for all. Alas, I shall have to enjoy it vicariously via the internet tweetings or whatever, as funds do not allow my attendance this time. But if you ever head up North, I shall be there with pie muffins and flat caps and so on.
Now, my main request. Can you please give us a bit of background on this frankly bonkers book you wroted? I am LOVING it.
Many an evening have I had to stop reading due to excessive laughter, only to then have to explain to the wife why a "woman" worried about glutinous black suds coming out of her is so funny.
There was, and I enjoyed writing it, because it was pure stream-of-consciousness, but it was also a bit depressing, and made me feel bad about myself and men in general. Also, the publisher went bust about a month after it came out.
So E3 is next month. With Microsoft recently acquiring a ton of new studios, wouldn't it be a real good time to announce the next gen Xbox at this month's conference or next year's? With these studios working with Microsoft shouldn't they have these studios work on titles for the next-gen Xbox and announce this at a future E3?
This year they will be showing of a ton of new games, but if they announce the next gen Xbox either this year or next year I'm sure this will go down really well, and give Sony a real run for its money. The one thing Microsoft got right with the Xbox One was Backwards Comparability. I'm looking forward to this year's E3 and, considering Sony isn't attending, Microsoft's conference should be really good to say the least.
What is everyone expecting this year, and are you expecting something big this year or next?
gamertag ( gaz be rotten)
Yeah, come at me, kidz!
Right then. New Digi video up this weekend don't forget. And also remember to "have a good one".