We're now more or less all set and ready to go. There's a little bit of work to do on some of the props, I've got to get the scripts loaded onto the autocue, and cue cards written up. The other hosts have been researching the segments they'll be handling - and buying their show-wear, amusingly. Guests are all locked-in (and there'll be at least one or two very special guests that you might not have expected)...
It's going to be a busy week, but I'll try and share as many non-spoiler-y pictures from the set as I can. I'll attempt to put some up every evening to give you an idea of what we've been doing each day. I'm feeling pretty confident that we're as prepared as we could be at this stage. The only real issue hovering above me is whether we'll get everything shot on time. But even then we have a contingency plan...
Anyhoo. That's it. On with this bumper, end-of-term, 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 filthy emails to this place here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Is it just me or is it slightly condescending (and more than a little bit of taking the weewee) that "Gaming Disorder" should be scrutinized in the middle of the World Cup which, essentially, infects all aspects of societal life.
Call me a bluff old pedant but how is it not hypocritical to regard gaming as an addiction when 22 overpaid gets playing a game is regarded as somehow heroic? Methinks there's a bit of Doctor Bollocks on the Bakerloo line at play here.
Also what do you think is the better name for a vampire-themed tribute band to 80's musical titans, Tepes Mode or Vlad Manners?
I dunno. I tried to watch a bit of the World Cup, but I realised once again that I've got absolutely zero interest in it, and it was just me trying to feel normal.
Plug-Me-Do! It's another entry in the Digi game diary:
This contains alarming amounts of technical guff and one questionably funny picture. A microcosm of the game, if you like.
Been residing in Kampala for the past couple of years now, and recently the Digi2000 website has become completely inaccessible from the country! What Uganda do about it?
It’s hard to believe you’re already about to embark on the main filming for Digitiser The Show.
The Kickstarter campaign only ended in April, and now here we are just a few months later - you’ve had loads of props commissioned and built, the team’s all together, and you’re ready to go. I can only admire your drive and determination to get it done!
Good luck to everyone involved with it all, I hope it goes smoothly, and there are no punch-ups among the cast or anything (unless they’re filmed and are really funny). Also: please nobody die from heatstroke in this ridiculous weather at the moment.
Most importantly, godspeed you on your sacred quest to retrieve the magic Digi desk. Just make sure you don’t break anything - including your back moving the thing.
Hope you have an absolute blast making the show, and you can enjoy seeing everything you’ve worked so hard for taking shape according to your vision. I know you’ll do yourself, and the Digi name, proud. We’re all rooting for you.
These are the most exciting times to be a Digi fan, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with, or where things go next. May you be positively engulfed in good will and fair wind (make own joke here).
A couple of days ago I received another telescope via courier. I've checked eBay and Amazon and I have never sober or drunkenly bought a telescope from either. I say another because about a month ago I received exactly the same model; neither had any details on who had sent me them, the only 'clue' was that both were boxed up in the normal unfeasibly large Amazon packaging.
I sold the first one (I didn't bother opening it), but I set the second one up. It's quite remarkable - it's got a motor that you can link up to your phone or laptop and it will automatically turn to any celestial object in the database... of which there are millions.
A word of warning though - don't look at the Sun with it. Well, at least not without a proper Sun filter. Also, when looking into a neighbours garden in daylight make sure it's a neighbour that lives quite a distance away and not next door. They don't seem to like the 'invasion of privacy', or so I've heard from her friend.
I made the last bit up.
I am unfit and quite weak and that is all.
Will the cussing snakes be in Digi: The Show?
A long time fan of the cussing snakes
I bought an Xbox One X – more out of boredom than anything. Comically, this isn't due to a lack of lovely-looking games for the PS4 Pro – but too many of them, if anything. I'd been in a rut of trying things for a little bit then putting them aside in favour of Peggle 2.
This is especially galling when paying £50 for them. God of War? Persona 5? WHAT A LOAD OF OVERRATED OLD CACA. Then I overcompensated by buying some older budget games which, though doubtless excellent value, I deep down didn't really want to play and subsequently haven't. (I'M LOOKING AT YOU MASS EFFECT ANDROMEDA AND DISHNORED 2.)
Imagine my wrath, then, when, after soldering through the admittedly quite pretty Halo 5 solo on hardest difficulty for many hours, a particularly taxing level failed to register save checkpoints, instead booting me back to the beginning of the level after 20, 30 or 40 minutes of very tentative poking my head of corners and bravely ordering my AI compatriots into battle ahead of me (they deserve it the dimwitted shits).
Back to before a cut scene I might add, which was unskippable till the closing seconds. HNJREYGH.
No problem, I thought. I'll just save my game and quit the app. In fact, I'll shut the Xbox down altogether. What happened 'pon restarting? My saved game completely gone. Nowhere to be seen. What made this all the more galling is that I was due a hefty amount of gamerscore for completing the campaign this way — several achievements all rolled up together (the game doesn't dole them out a level at a time.)
And the first meaningful boost to my gamerscore since my 360 days. I was furious, and yet it came as a strange relief. I immediately resolved to return my Xbox, which I hadn't felt great about buying. (Really, I'm a parent, and I have two jobs, a bunch of books to read, and not enough time for one premium console let alone two - what was I thinking? So yes: mainly relief).
I'm sure Xbox One X's are very good, and I fell foul of a very niche bug: but from my end of things this was the worst consumer experience of my life. I'll probably never buy an Xbox again: not cos I'm on my high horse, but just because it's one less decision to have to make every 5 years.
The moral of this story? If you're a self-entitled bored little prick like me, then shop at Argos: they refunded the Xbox without question, complaint or suggestion of store credit. What do you think? Am I the most short-lived Xbox owner in history? Be satisfied with what you have, friends. I promptly went and bought the latest Call of Duty for my PS4 Pro – I'm not proud of it. But I'll know I'll enjoy it. Oh and Yoku's Island Express is good, isn't it? The music's great! SHAMON!
Sorry for rambling. I shall diminish, and go into the West.
Dear Mr Biffo Byford out of gumby New Wave of British Heavy Metal band Saxons, inspiration for much of Spinal Tap.
If you could bring back any old TV show and be the lead writer what show would it be and why? Also, a reboot or a straight continuation?
Lovey dovey doughnuts to all.
But I dunno. I'd love a crack at Rentaghost if they ever brought it back. I'm a sucker for continuity. It'd have to feel standalone, but I'd want to allude to it being a continuation.
I've somehow become slightly pigeonholed into being a writer who writes musical comedies, but I'm desperate to do something sci-fi. A new Blake's 7 or Tomorrow People would do me. Or Chocky, which creeped me out at the time.
I'm also tempted say Grange Hill - because that was genuinely compelling telly in the early days, and ended up as a shadow of its former self - but I'm already sort of writing a modern Grange Hill (with songs and jokes) in the shape of 4 O'Clock Club.
I enjoyed your review of Yoku’s Island Express. It was positive, and you commented on all the things that gave you enjoyment as well as the things you found frustrating.
At the end you gave it one of your excellent scores of a thing out of a thing which, although nonsensical, made sense and was reflective of your actual review... but is obviously arbitrary.
All of this is in stark contrast to an online user review I read which was basically saying it was the most enjoyable game they had played in ages and had loved every minute of it. They then summed it up by giving it a score of 7.5 out of 10. This is generally what is wrong with game scores.
Giving a wholly subjective thing a score is ridiculous anyway. If the review is well written, people should be able to gauge whether it would be a game they will enjoy or not.
I might start a YouTube channel reviewing different pots of paint from B&Q and which one makes my spare room more pleasing and gives me more joy.
I will score them out of ten.
Excited by the sneaky glimpses of Digitiser the Show!
What makes you the most nostalgic when it comes to games?
Here's a list.
1) Terrible, terrible novelty controllers that you always make your friend use.
2) Setting Address, DMA, and IRQ settings to get sound to work.
3) Also, trying to free up as much conventional memory as possible so your game loads.
4) Spectrum tape noises.
5) BBC Micro disk drive noises.
7) Caring about how many bits something was.
8) Cover tapes.
9) Having "you're addicted to that thing and you're making God sad" yelled at you when all you want to do is make your spectrum draw a star and play some music.
And that's my gaming nostalgia list!
Good luck for the filming next week, it will all be fine, I'm sure.
I enjoyed reading your recent review of Flashback on the Switch. What other cinematic platformers are you partial to?
Howdy Biffo. Got one of them new fangled MP3 players for Father's Day a couple oF weeks back, it's fairly big, and I'm running out of ideas as to what to put on it.
Apart from Marillion, what would you recommend? I usually worship at the alter of rock but I'm into all sorts. Nice one.
PS. Isn't it mad that in the future you can just tape records off the internet!?
I loved Steve Wilson's last album To The Bone. I've started listening into an American sort of alt.country guy called The White Buffalo. Also, everyone should own Talk Talk's Spirit of Eden.
I checked my iTunes to see what I've listened to recently, but only this was in there:
Star Wars has all gone a bit funny, hasn't it? And not just the awkward comedy bits in the last Jedi. Plans for a fan funded remake, social media harassment of actresses, countless articles calling fans racists or misogynists or whatever. People are so busy fighting over the franchise that it's becoming completely toxic, like Nu Earth out of the Rogue Trooper 2000AD series. I'm starting to wish George Lucas had kept the Star Wars rights stuffed safely down his underpants.
Even watching the original trilogy has become a depressing experience these days, knowing that the Empire gets replaced by a more powerful and evil faction, Luke becomes a bitter old recluse, Han Solo leaves Leia, and their son becomes a super villain who eventually murders Han. And of course the terrible revelations that Darth Vader actually built C3PO and neither of Luke's parents could act.
As a lifelong fan, The Last Jedi did make me feel pissed off too, but expressing that publicly does seem to be getting people labelled as racist or misogynist - and undoubtedly some of those who didn't like the film are.
My issues with it are nothing to do with any of the casting choices - I want Star Wars to be as "woke" as it can be. I mean, I liked Admiral Holdo. I thought Rose Tico was fine - she was just a bit of an unnecessary character, stuck in an slightly dull side-story. I didn't even have problem with the Mary Poppins Leia bit.
My issues are really about the core story, how it - in my opinion - handled Luke, and was dismissive of where The Force Awakens seemed to be leading. It didn't build upon what came before, and seemed to be a bit cavalier in its handling of it. It felt like a slap in the face.
Plus - and here I go now - as a whole it was nowhere near as surprising and left-field as they tried to make us believe it was. It felt like an anticlimax after what had come before. I didn't feel it did enough new, and wasn't as radical as it needed to be. Every beat in it was reheated from stuff we'd seen before; big AT-AT walker things? Again?? Oh, but they're bigger than before!
Oh, and this time they stand there doing nothing while the bad guy has a fight with a ghost. At least use them, if you're going to the effort of featuring them. And don't spend 30 years and an entire film building up to the reappearance of Luke Skywalker, and just have him moping around. Or at least don't have him moping around if you're not going to pay that off in a satisfying way.
Thing is... even now, 7 months on, I struggle to articulate exactly what I didn't like about it, and I suspect I'm not alone. Which may be why some idiots are wrongly laying the blame at the door of Kelly Marie Tran, than the bigger issues the film had. We all bought tickets to see Luke being Luke - just as we all enjoyed seeing Han Solo being classic Han Solo - and that isn't what we got. I think if they'd handled that character better, or at least ended the film with a big, climactic battle between him and Kylo Ren, nobody would've had issue with the rest of it, which was well made and well written.
I really enjoyed Solo - it's a shame it flopped - but beforehand my enthusiasm was very low. It was released far too soon after TLJ, and between that, and animated series, and books and whatnot... well, if even someone like me can feel Star Wars fatigue, it's little wonder that mainstream audiences weren't interested.
I just think the difference between LucasFilm now, and LucasFilm when Lucas was in charge, is that - for better or worse (prequels) - the first six Star Wars films were the ones that Lucas wanted to make. He wasn't in it for the money necessarily; he was trying to scratch a creative itch.
In that respect, they had an authenticity to them which the current, must-make-money, Disney-owned, Star Wars seems to lack. We all have the capacity to smell inauthenticity a mile away, even if we don't fully understand that's what we're sensing. I think that's what's going on.
Sorry. TL: DR.
1) Do you think that motion controls/kinect-style controllers have a bigger or smaller future than virtual reality?
2) Which game, regardless of its gameplay, had the best graphics relative to its time of release?
3) Which was a better revival of a dormant series, Doom (recent version) or Deus Ex : Human Revolution?
4) With Sony choosing not to permit the sale of Omega Labyrinth Z, quite rightly in my opinion, I do feel that, nevertheless, there is a hypocrisy in our moral outrage. Sexual assault, as part of a game is rightly and widely decried, but 'we' seem to have non-issue with games allowing incredible violence and murder. I won't put you on the spot by asking you your opinion on this but I am curious to hear your thoughts on why murder is so acceptable compared to other terrible crimes in computer games.
2) The one that springs to mind is the original Doom. It truly broke new ground. For me, that was the biggest watershed moment in gaming.
3) Doom for me, because it recaptured the feel of the original.
4) I dunno. I've said already how disappointed I was in the amount of violence on show at E3 this year. I think it's just lazy really. It's like swearing in comedy to get a laugh; it's easy, and means you don't have to think of something more clever and nuanced. Why murder is acceptable in games is beyond me, and I don't mind it if it's stylised, or justified by the story or setting, but games which revel in violence are starting to trouble me in my middle age.
Does Mr Biffo ever creep into your other writing, either consciously or sub-consciously? From my own experience of your work I would say not, which is a sign of a good writer, IMHO.
For example, loopylisa very much has her own voice, she’s not just Mr Biffo in a dress wearing lipstick (although from the pictures in the book she very much is Mr Biffo in a dress wearing lipstick).
Incidentally, the bit where she recites in great detail a chemistry experiment she’s done at work to a chap who’s probably only interested in what colour pants she’s got on is still one of the funniest things I’ve ever read ha ha ha. Anyway, enough flattery for now.
I will flatter you a bit more next week, assuming I remember to send an email. Cheerz,
I have a writing-for-kids-tv voice, and I'm able to write to the brief, and deliver what is needed. It's partly out of necessity - I have to suppress my more innate Mr Biffo-y tendencies, which are more stream-of-consciousness, and treat it as a job.
My script writing is more technical, and it's almost like solving a puzzle; putting the story together so that it makes sense, so that the characters are consistent, that each line of dialogue either moves the story on, reveals something about character, or gets a laugh. If I wasn't able to employ my experience of doing that, I'd just write a load of old bollocks.
So, to answer your question... it's rare that Mr Biffo ever crops up in my other work, but I'm still me... and so I think I nevertheless have a style of screenwriting that's unique to who I am. The more overt oddness might just be a bit hidden beneath all the other - more technical and formal - considerations.