For now... absorb the latest Digitiser Friday Letters Page into your abdomen.
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, 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
Snog / Marry / Avoid:
Commander Shepherd (either gender)
Snog Shepherd (either gender).
Avoid Lara Croft. She's damaged goods.
From being a somewhat stupid person when it comes to cars (I only know how to drive one) I asked a friend for a lift to a garden centre the other day; I can't drive my car right now because it had to be scrapped.
"I need to get some petrol first" he insisted.
"Nah, looking at that you'll make it there first. We can stop somewhere on the way back" I told him with utmost confidence whilst pointing at the fuel gauge.
He ran out of fuel about two miles from my place. Not really knowing what to do he begrudgingly trudged a fair old walk with me to some friends' house to see if they had a petrol can we could borrow.
Upon knocking on the door there was no answer but we could hear the TV on and hear them both laughing and talking (and not in an 'let's pretend we're not in' sort of way). We went round to their back door and let ourselves in.
They were both on their hands and knees in the lounge doing some colouring in; you know, the sort children do. Colouring in?! They're both in their thirties!
I bit my tongue and didn't question why they were participating in such a thing, but they were obviously having a lot of fun doing so in their sweatbox of a lounge - it was really hot and humid because of the vast array of lizards, snakes, spiders and dinosaurs they had living in there under hot lights in various vivariums.
Needless to say (and what with them being car-less themselves) they didn't have a petrol can. Craig The Colourer did offer us an unused, recycled cardboard urine bottle though, that he proudly proclaimed he had stolen and, in all good faith, asked "can you use this?"
We declined his kind offer and instead telephoned my Smoking Brother for help, which he did, but wanted a fiver for his time, which was fair enough. On the way out I tripped on a load of Crayola wax crayons and knocked a big plastic Tupperware container off the table whilst trying to break my fall. It released the entire contents... the contents of which were a load of crickets.
I doubt they'll read this, but hey: Michelle and Craig, sorry about that. It really was an accident and I would have helped pick them up with you if my friend Alex hadn't decided to try and stomp on a load of them before we left.
Plus, the bedroom stunk, and for months afterwards we were finding crickets and mealworms throughout the house.
Actually, on second thoughts... that bearded dragon was awful.
I've overcome my general tardiness and lethargy to send this over to you good and early in the week, so that I don't have to wait until I see you tweeting pictures of retching cats or weasels on Twitter around mid-week, and then panic myself into a state over not having anything decent to send in.
Anyway - how's this for a fun and ever-so-slighty spooky story?
Recently, I spent an evening with friends kicking back with blu-rays and some expensive beer. This doesn't happen very often for me lately, so it was a bit of an event.
One of my pals had decided she wanted to see the film Arrival, with Amy Adams and that guy who plays the bow and arrow chap in the Marvel movies. Just in case you haven't seen it, it's really good. Quite cerebral. Very serious. But at one point in the movie, something MAGICAL happened, which I thought you needed to hear about.
Without spoiling anything about the film, there's a scene where a big alien spaceship sends a little pod down to the ground for Amy Adams to get into and travel back up in. And as soon as the shot of the little pod leaving the much bigger spaceship appeared, one of my pals, without a hint of provocation, pointed and sang 'Alien spaceship did a poo!' with the EXACT phrasing and cadence of The Camptown Races.
And then, without dropping so much as a beat, another of my pals added 'Doo-daaah! Doo-daah!' and suddenly we were all having a singalong.
But what's spooky is that NONE of us were at Digitiser Live, and none of my pals had any knowledge whatsoever of the David Braben song. It was just this crazy moment of beautiful, spontaneous serendipity. And it completely ruined the film.
But, whatever. It was good for a laugh.
Aged 42 and a bit.
Having put up a bit of wall today, me and Mr.J (the wife) are celebrating with alcohol, and somehow the topic of conversation got onto The Man’s Daddy teletext graphic, as Mr.J recalls watching his brother Tommy Chuckles viewing Digitiser many planet rotations ago (for game news apparently as he doesn’t recall much else of it), and thinking that The Man’s Daddy was an elephant!
I don’t really remember paying too thought to it at the time as I was distracted probably by the hilarious comedy jokes, but this discussion has piqued my interests.
Mr.Biffo, what was the inspiration for the classic Man’s Daddy graphic?
Neither was inspired by anything other than my corrupt imagination.
Dear Uncle Bigglesworth,
I notice you never talk about your air fryer anymore. I’m sure many people like me only joined Patreon because of the air fryer talk.
Can we have an update please?
Far better than the rubbish Jamie Oliver "self-stirring" saucepan that was meant to save time. It didn't save nothing. You still had to stir manually, because all the food would get stuck to the bottom if you just left it. Utter garbage. Jamie Oliver can rot in Hell.
Re: candyfloss grapes, Tesco has them. I have found them both tucked in with the normal grapes and completely separate to the fruit so like, who knows? Can confirm they're extremely gross though.
Have you had any strange or unusual post through the PO Box yet?
Unrelated to the above question, I had a HENCH shit earlier. Sour and acrid, clinging to the sensitive oesophagus lining, making my nose hairs quiver. It took three flushes and I STILL had to clean the toilet afterwards to remove remnants. 10/10 shit.
I'm seeing an accelerating number of crowdfunded and community projects, including stuff by some big developers, all focused on revamping and revitalising some retro game or another. I'm seeing a lot of "FOMO" in the community, because there's just so much stuff, and it's easy to miss an announcement.
Do you think it would be useful for Kickstarter or IndieGoGo should limit the number of projects in a particular genre per month to give people more chance to catch the "retro game remake of the month"?
Guten Tag, Biffo,
I'm going to start this weeks letter with an apology regarding my tweet from earlier this week about being you (meaning the Biffo character) for Halloween. I understand that that was quite rude and I apologise sincerely.
But anyway, some interesting things have occurred over the last fortnight. The latest Digi videos have been brilliant and even though there are people who dislike them greatly, there's a majority enjoying 'em, myself included.
Also, me and the department I ambassador for (?? how would i say that????) have been very busy this week with student teachers. As the RMPS (Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies) Ambassador for my year, I was taken out of classes to help them settle in. There are four of them and two ambassadors. How that'll pan out I have no idea.
We also took a venture out to a castle with my German class (where there are 7 of us) and did some stuff. That was interesting.
Anyway, I hope you can excuse my earlier mishap and have a very lovely week!
Just get a wig, and drive over it in a car a few times before wearing it. Wear it to your RMPS meetings, whatever they are, and tell everyone it's "official ambassador garb".
As your Regal Dog has commanded me to send some nonsense or other to your inbox I can only assume he thinks the fact that my pathetic attempts to play Kelly Slater Pro Surfing on my Gamecube really does mean something to him.
Can't think why but if it's by Royal Decree...!!!
Jon Clay, Taunton, Somerset
Please do whatever you like. Ignore the haters. Be weird, be odd, play with balloons, invent magic tricks. It’s all great.
I have some video ideas, feel free to use them as you wish.
- Go to a park and do a big “Art Attack”.
- A video entirely from the perspective of your cat.
- “The story of Fat Sow”, with commentary by Fat Sow.
- Paint Gannon, literally.
- More fire/explosions.
- Hide and Seek.
- Space hoppers.
Also, I have some PO Box stuff for you, I just need to get around to posting it.
Long time reader, first time writer.That’s what you have to say, isn’t it? Anyway, I’ve been thinking a bit about boring things like technical performance and frame rates and oh my god I’ve fallen asleep on my keybaofinaasvav45y£%£”54y
I’m awake again. Anyway, something I keep hearing about these days is game performance. I’m referring specifically to Link’s Awakening, which took a small hammering recently because, every so often, the game judders a little when you enter a new area. God save us from such hardship.
Honestly, it’s noticeable - but I’m not convinced I would have noticed it, had it not been pointed out in every YouTube video ever made. Some have gone so far as to NOT BUY THIS GAME because of this, even though they wanted to play it. They literally can’t deal with a few framerate hitches, as though they don’t remember the N64 days (and perhaps they don’t).
I honestly cannot fathom this mindset. It smacks of entitlement and a generally spoiled attitude that pervades the gaming community, if you can ever forgive me for referring to a ‘gaming community’. The game works perfectly well, and is very enjoyable, if perhaps a tad overpriced at £60.
I’ve also seen online commenters, the swines, scoff at the likes of Doom 2016 and Wolfenstein on Switch, both games which I massively enjoyed on the console in both docked and handheld mode. Yes, I can play Doom under the sheets if I choose. Okay, it may not look as shiny or run as fast, but I’m experiencing the game as presented by the developers and it works and feels great.
While I enjoy and appreciate the fine work of channels such as Digital Foundry, who break down performance and technical achievements/foibles in video games, I do fear that now everyone thinks they are an expert, deserving of only the best graphics and silkiest smooth frame rate and other such boring trifles. Gameplay and experience and, dare I say, FUN are surely the most important part of our shared hobby… right?
Anyway, I’m curious to see if others feel the same, and perhaps this is just a vocal minority of ding-dongs who need to be seen to have the SWEETEST GAMING RIG 2019 etc who are making this noise? I’ll be here playing my Switch and ignoring my PS4 Pro, as per usual.
Just finished reading your 'lengthy davis' on the future of Digitiser and I had a few thoughts. I'm sure you're going to get a lot of letters in response, and everyone's going to have a stupid opinion they want to tell you about. This is mine.
Can I preface by saying that though I've eagerly swallowed almost all of your Digitiser-branded emissions since the 90s, I've never paid you a penny for them and am under no illusions about what I'm owed. I would have supported the kickstarters, I really would, but I didn't realise you were 'back' at the time, I found out after Digitiser the Series was already out.
For me Digitiser was never about the gaming content. Even back in my teen days when I actually did spend time Dooming and such, it was always and has ever remained, about the pfffts. It's my instinct to mock the things I love and I always felt Digi was sucking a marble up the same bit of greased hosepipe in that regard.
I start watching most if not all the Digi-Minis. I tend not to finish them though - two dudes arsing about with tat, it's just not for me. And that's okay. If, as you say, you're enjoying making them then consider my cheeks rouged with pleasure for you. Yes, those cheeks.
Now to the bit where I sound like an entitled tool. My opinion is that the humour of Digitiser, of Paul Rose, works infinitely better in writing. When you write you are exceptional. You have a unique voice and you make people's brains visualise surreal imagery that can be at once hilarious and disgusting and it's as funny as fuck and that's a rare thing. I'm jealous of it and I've been aping your style for as long as I've been writing.
I really enjoyed Digitiser the Series, but only the scripted sections with the characters felt like a true continuation of Digitiser for me. The rest of it was good, but something else. Found Footage to me feels like Digitiser, even though it isn't. It's tonally the same. And it's awesome. I'm guessing this is why you're more proud of it, becuase it's pure Biffo.
When you're improvising in a video, i.e. the Digi-minis, the humour, for me, just isn't there in the same way. Fart jokes and being grumpy and shouting at each other are fun I suppose, but my sensibilities are for the more creative, surreal stuff - the language and the imagery. I don't want to be rude but for me, Digi-minis are just okay. And as I'm sure you've experienced too, as you age you have less and less time for 'just okay'.
That's just what I reckon and it may be of no value. Do what feels right, and I'm sure there's plenty of people who prefer the broader comedy of the minis to the surrealist stuff. I know you write for your day job and probably want to do something different in your spare time.
And I know it's much easier and probably more fun to improvise a video with a mate than it is to script something and get performers and kit together to make it, but from this viewers perspective, I'd far rather have a scripted series every couple of years than than two throwaway improvised ones every week. And I'd rather you wrote stuff than made videos, but I'm terribly old-fashioned and overweight and I just think the world would be better if it had a smaller amount of stuff in it, but more of the stuff was grade-A+. By *my* standards.
To summarise, if I am a dog relentlessly humping your leg, then I guess I'm saying, "Hey man, the chinos are fine, I suppose, but when you wear those brown cords....oh wow...grrrrrrr."
I'm so sorry.
For me, though, part of my personal disappointment in Digitiser The Show is that we tried too hard to make a TV version of what Digi was, rather than trying to capture the fundamental substance that ran through it. It wasn't, frankly, subversive or stupid, or its own thing, enough, and the Mr T appearances etc. just felt to me like a cheap, crowbarred-in, sop to expectations.
It's absolutely fine with me if you don't like my arsing around. As you say, it's not for you, and if you don't like something then you shouldn't feel obliged to watch it. Life's too short.
The channel is clearly going through a bit of a readjustment/refinement at the minute, because we're losing subscribers in the wake of Balloonvideogate (a lot of whom, I suspect, were gaming fans, or people there for the Digi nostalgia)... but at the same time we're putting on more new ones than we've lost. Most of whom, I suspect, are people who aren't all about gaming, and don't even remember Digitiser. Which, harsh as it may sound, is what I want.
I'm tired of being what people expect from Mr Biffo, so it's refreshing to have people encounter me now, for the first time, who don't have all the Digi baggage... who don't have something that's 27 years old to compare me to.
It's like... Marillion. My favourite band. If you listened to their latest album it's nothing like their early ones. There are fans of the new stuff who hate the old stuff from the 80s, and vice-versa, but it's all Marillion. I'm lucky in that I like it all, even if they sound like two different bands. I accept that it's their right to make music they like today, and I wouldn't want them being a nostalgia act, even if their approach alienates the older fans.
It took me a long time to try to work out how to get what I feel is a Digi-ness in live action/animation (and ultimately, I'm the only real arbiter of what that might be) - I first tried almost 20 years ago with my Knife & Wife pilot for Channel 4, and it didn't work. That haunted me, and it took me forever to wrap my head around why it fell short.
We had an amazing cast - Terry Jones, Paul Putner, Jessica Hynes and Kevin Eldon, for pity's sake! - but the words just didn't sound right when said aloud.
I've got a very particular way of writing, and it doesn't always convey as well when spoken aloud. Trust me on that. It's why something like "moc-moc-a-moc" has become a kind of Brucie-style catchphrase; I had to find a way to make it work in a completely different format.
What works in print - at least, my way of writing - doesn't work in live action, when scripted vertabim. It just doesn't, as you say, but that was a lesson I'd already learned, so I'm not really trying to do that on the Minis. And, actually, I didn't in Found Footage either, except in a few places (and even then it needed to be altered to make it readable; I don't think it's actually possible to "perform" it - it can only be read, which is why that style works best with the FF spoof ads/voiceovers).
Plus, I think people had a voice in their head, and a certain expectation of what I was like, and I'm not like that. I get that a lot too, that people expected me to be this little, considered, nerdy guy, who spoke in a flowery sort of way. And instead I'm a hulking, working class, hyperactive, manchild.
Biffovision was much closer to nailing the tone, and Found Footage closer still, but both ended up being their own thing, and not really, necessarily, more "like" Digitiser. For me at least, the Digi Minis are much closer to capturing what Digitiser was - at least its spirit - than anything else I've done. They are, for better or worse, very purely me, but your tolerance for that is going to be down to whether or not you can stomach watching me. I try to write in a way I find engaging and funny, and when I'm on camera I try to do it in a way I find engaging and funny.
What I realised when doing FF was that it's more about capturing a certain essence of Digi, rather than copying the way it was written. For me, Digi was really all about a certain subversiveness of spirit. You state an intention - "We're going to talk about video games" or "Here's our video about magic tricks!" - and then... don't do that. It's about jarring juxtapositions, and weird ideas - or behaviour.
Plus, it's also, again, about different mediums. What's subversive or funny on Teletext 20-odd years ago isn't going to be on YouTube in this day and age. For example, Zombie Dave - for me - just doesn't work outside of Teletext.
That said, it feels like we're just getting started with the Digi Minis. Just as it took me a year or more to discover my style or writing, I feel I'm getting better at the improvising. They're not easily transferable skills; it's one thing to write, and rewrite, and refine a written pice, another to learn to be spontaneous in the moment. I wrote recently about how I'm not a comedian or performer, so I've had to work at discovering my comedy persona, and... it's early days. It's trial and error, but I think I'm getting there.
I described it the other day as the dynamic between Gannon and I as him being a child who thinks he's an adult, and me being an adult who is actually a child.
The ones where we're looking more closely at an old bit of gaming tat don't - for me - work as well as the more recent ones, such as the magic one, or the balloons ep, where we're being two idiots who are sort of trying to do YouTube and failing... because we're just not equipped. We've half-seen what's popular on YouTube, and kind of want that success, but we're crap at it. That, for me anyway, is the joke...
So, they're not meant to be a live action copy of Digitiser. They're their own thing, that's more about the personalities of the people in them. We're doing something different with them, that we're trying to make work in their own way. And I don't want to just trade in nostalgia, as that's very restrictive.
But at the same time, I loved making Found Footage, and the FF-y inserts are becoming a part of the Minis, and I may do something more longer form in that vein in the future.
I do wonder if, when you say that Found Footage and the scripted bits of Digi The Show were more like my written work, whether that's just a perception based upon the fact you liked those and you like my written stuff, rather than them being similar. Because I honestly don't think they are. We just like stuff or we don't, and you don't like the Minis. That's okay.
Ultimately, I'm sorry that you don't like them, but yes I do love doing them, I think they're great and watchable - yeah, even if I am in them - and I'm excited by the fact that they're evolving, and that what they are is becoming more defined each time we sit down to make a new batch. They're not going away, for all the reasons I wrote about earlier this week.
At the same time, it's not like I've left the written word behind either, so you'll always have that, and there's plenty of written Digi saved on sites like Super Page 58 for your old school fix.
I've always wondered about gaming character Mario Mario, of the Mario series of games.
As he squashes enemies with his rear end with joy, though does this means that he enjoys the song 'I Like Big Butts' and Cannot Lie..' owing to his short and dumpy stature.
Though when he isn't feeding Yoshi, does it mean he is a podium dancer in a nightclub within the Mushroom Kingdom, with his liking for dungarees and also his wearing of a fine moustache. Raving it up with Bowser in a Hot Gossip tribute act.
Bob Jobbins of Potty Land
Dear Mr Biffo
I've finally given in this evening and put the heating on. I know a lot of other people have been using theirs for a while now but 1. It's now October and 2. I'm cold.
This week I've been playing everyone's favourite team-based shooter Overwatch on the PC, which has been interesting.
I'm much more suited to this style of game than I am to the usual online shooter deathmatches or battle royale games, because you can do stuff that helps your team while hiding at the back rather than having to have split second twitch reflexes to get anywhere at all.
I like the way it looks and the way everything is reasonably clear during a battle even though they're sometimes completely manic affairs with all sorts of stuff going on at once. Good use of colours to help differentiate what's going to kill you and what you can ignore because it's from your team.
I have also been playing Untitled Goose Game. I've done most of the to-do lists except for two of the speed runs and one item I've not worked out yet on the To-Do Also list.
If I was trying to do those items and wasn't doing things like stealing all the gardener's carrots and dumping them in the shop then I might complete it, but it's one of those games where you can amuse yourself for further hours doing other stuff that the game doesn't care about you doing, nobody reacts to because it's not been coded for, but is enjoyable anyway.
Or maybe it's enjoyable if you have the personality of a horrible goose, like I do. I notice there is an unused button of the standard four on a controller, and would like them to patch in using that button for doing a poo. You could make the boy with the glasses slip over on your poo! Have you ever slipped in goose poo? I think I have once but it might have been swan, or combined, as they are both present and correct at the marine lake.
Finally I have been playing Final Fantasy 8 "Remastered". It's not VERY remastered. They've taken the PC version, which incidentally is the first version I played, and added higher resolution character models.
They've not really done much to the textures other than that, they still have the same filtering as the PC version which looks awful. If you already had it and all the mods on PC it's not worth it. If you want to play Final Fantasy 8 I'd just get the PS3/Vita version.
I love Final Fantasy 8 though so even knowing all that beforehand I bought it on DAY ONE!!!!!!!!!! I have now played it for 30-something hours and just got the spaceship which opens up the game. There are lots of bits I forgot about, but also it seems shorter, smaller and a lot less epic than I recall. Also the story is a complete mess, but it remains one of my favourite games of all time and my favourite Final Fantasy by some distance.
I hope everyone enjoyed this gaming content.
For more of how I react to poo... watch this Sunday's Digitiser Mini...
441) I've always found it peculiar that Google Stadia and Microsoft's Game Pass are highlighted as the major players in game streaming when PlayStation Now has been doing this for years. With the ability to download games and the permanent price cut, do you see PS Now becoming the major streaming service?
442) Which was the most unfairly overlooked console of the following: PlayStation Vita, Atari Lynx, Nokia N-Gage or Tiger Gizmondo?
443) Does the PS1 have the most iconic games that are no longer part of the wider games industry. Destruction Derby, Fear Effect, Cool Boarders, Kurushi, Ridge Racer, G-Police and Colony Wars (among others) are instantly associable with PS1, but none seem to be a big deal now - technically Fear Effect is, but as a totally different game.
444) what is your favourite retro mini console so far and why? Is there a potential future console that you'd look forward to even more?
445) Games are much more mainstream than ever before, especially those such as Fortnite. I would argue, however, that considering the size of the market, they are not as mainstream as they 'should' be. For example, everyone watches film/TV despite games making more money than films. Do you agree and if so, why is this?
442) For almost all of those there was a deficit of must-play games. You can discount the N-Gage entirely as it had utter stupidity baked into its very concept. There so few Gizmondo games released that you can forget about that too. The Vita always suffered through Sony's apparent lack of confidence in what and who it was for (though it certainly had promise, especially its remote play feature). But I'm going to say the Lynx, as the first colour handheld, and a library with some genuinely decent arcade-style games.
443) I think there are tons of franchises that are even better known, which seem to have died off. Look at Sega's catalogue; Crazy Taxi, Golden Axe, Zaxxon, Virtua Fighter... et al. Where are they now? Admittedly, they're not necessarily format-specific, but pick any Sega console, and I'd argue that the games will be more recognisable to more people than G-Police, Destruction Derby or Colony Wars.
444) I'm waiting on my Mega Drive Mini still, but thus far I'd say it's a toss-up between the SNES and the Neo Geo. The latter got a lot of stick upon release - and the built-in joystick is a horror - but it has its own little, built-in, screen for pity's sake!
445) I do agree that games remain kind of on the outside of the mainstream. That said, when I was in Majorca this summer, we saw a kid with the Fortnite logo shaved into his head. I don't know if that proves or disproves your point but, well, it's just a thing we saw...
'Ello Mr Biffo. You've talked a lot about how Digitiser is a passion project, and from your Gannon-alarming outbursts in response to nasty YouTube comments I can tell it means a lot to you. the comment that stuck in my mind the most was the one that made you yell that you know the plastering's shit.
I just thought I'd let you know that you shouldn't feel bad about that. Plastering is fucking impossible to get right.
My dear wife, no doubt tired of waiting for me to fix it, took it upon herself to fill the holes, and paint the wall herself, for which I can't thank her enough. In real life, the wall actually looks fine, but under our lights all the imperfetions are highlighted.
SO SHUT-UP, EVERYONE.