I'm confident in saying that this year has been one of the best of my life - with far too many highlights to mention - but Digitiser The Show has, obviously, been a massive part of it. There have been bumps along the way - I've never worked so hard, and I'm so drained right now that I'm even struggling to make this an appropriately sincere summary of the journey - but... man... it has been worth it.
Those of you who have embraced the show, and bought into our vision for it, have - I think - been rewarded with something unique and special, which not only brings Digi to life in a way I didn't think was possible, but stands alone as simply just really good telly.
Stay subscribed to the channel, because we're not going away entirely. We want to build on the momentum, so not only are there more episodes to come next year, but we're going to make sure there's a steady flow of content. Starting next week.
On here over the coming week there'll be some guest posts and some Christmas whimsy, but then I'll be taking a bit of a break between Christmas and New Year to try and recharge a bit. We will, of course, have a Friday Letters Page next week, and I hope lots of you write in with your thoughts on the end of the series.
Anyhoo... let's do this week's letters. Let's do that now.
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
Hello, without wanting to come across as a letter to Viz magazine, this is a response to Richard Morrison in last Friday's letters page. I don't know if you are familiar with Star Trek The Next Generation: A Final Unity or not, but if you haven't tried it, give it a go. It is old now but succeeds in capturing the atmosphere, feel and themes of the programme really successfully and for me is one of the best tie-ins for any series ever.
I think what I want from a Star Trek game is one which doesn't capture the atmosphere and themes of the show, because those are the things I find boring.
Hello. I wish to complain in the strongest possible terms about Digitiser the Show. Here are my complaints:
1 - Arse.
2 - Arse.
3 - Why in the name of arse haven't reversible sedgewicks had a demonstration yet?! Now seems like the ideal time.
4 - I'm really enjoying the show.
5 - Please stop Bundy dry heaving.
6 - Arse.
7 - Where did you pluck Gannon from? He's kept quiet all these years.
8 - Mr. Biffo, your hair is very odd at times.
Anyway, just some observations there. A series two is a must. And (9) why has the first episode disappeared from YouTube?! And that is all.
9. Ep 1 has been temporarily taken down so that I can fix the sound and picture issues it had.
We got a ton of grief over ep 1, which I think was a mixture of it being a new format that people weren't used to yet, and the fact that I was still figuring out the balance of the show in the edit. I reckon it would've gone down a lot better had there not been those technical issues. And so! It'll mean we lose all the views, but I'd rather have an ep up that I can be proud of. It'll be back, possibly, before Christmas. If not - then early in the new year.
8. You're rude. My hair just does its own thing, because it rarely - if ever - sees a brush.
7. Gannon I met last year when we were both at a comedy night thing at the Centre For Computing History. I really enjoyed his set, and after showed the first proper ep of Found Footage he came up and - with manic energy in his eyes and face - said how much he loved it. Admittedly, that was the last time he ever said anything nice to me, but I asked him to be in Found Footage, and then - after he interviewed me at the premiere of Found Footage - I realised that I felt uniquely comfortable working with him. He was the first person I asked to be involved with Digi.
Actually, I tricked him into saying some nice stuff to me in a private message yesterday, because I told him I was fed up. Ha ha! Suckered him into the Drama Triangle!
Go and listen to CheapShow. It's great.
5. Do you REALLY want Larry to stop dry-heaving?! Really?!?
3. Sedgewicks? Hnnng-hnng!
I was wondering if you had any nostalgia for the smell of gaming? Not the eye watering smell of body odour you get in CEX and Game, but the smell of your console as it gets warm.
For me a big part of the appeal of the original PlayStation is that it smelled like a proper expensive piece of equipment. As it warmed up it gave if a fragrance akin to that of a posh office, that of photocopiers and a faint hint of coffee.
I don't think any other consoles smelled nice like this, but maybe you have a different recollection?
When I read Digitiser on teletext I always thought the Man's Daddy was some sort of mutated elephant thing.
Now I learn it's a person in a weird gas mask.
You learn something new every day, though unfortunately not which of those is creepier.
Q. What did Russell Crowe build in his garden at Christmas?
A. The Greatest Crowman!
Love from Rob
When the final episode of Digitiser is up, I know I'm going to sit and cry. I'm really struggling with my mental and physical health at the moment - my seizure disorder is bad, my brain damage is giving me a lot of trouble, my depression is kicking up a fuss, it's generally not a great time.
Digitiser has been an absolute lifeline for me these past few weeks, giving me something to focus on during the absolute worst moments, when the prescription painkillers aren't working and I'm lying there having seizure after seizure wanting to die. So thank you, thank you dearly.
My questions are: will there be a series 2? How will it be funded? Will the same people present it? Will the format change at all?
Thank you for all you do, you lovely, lovely man.
All the best,
At the moment nothing is definitive, but we want to do a second series, and there a few options as to how we'll pay for it. My biggest concern right now is how much time series 1 has taken up. I can't really afford to take off another four months of the year unpaid - so we're going to have to try to afford an editor, which won't be cheap. I'd also like us to film more episodes in the shoot, maybe over two weeks. Which, again, means taking time out of my day job. But rest assured, this has been an amazing experience, and I want to do it again - but better!
There are inevitably going to be a few changes to the format, just to build upon what has worked best in series one. It will, though, keep the same balance between lunacy, total unprofessionalism, and gaming.
And as for you... hang in there. Embrace that Digi community, because they're bloody lovely people.
Dear Mr Biffo,
Please name 3 games where you feel the developers/publishers stole your money. My 3 are:
- Rik The Roadie (although I did return the game and claimed it did not work so it's moot point)
- Flightpath 737 (it's impossible, and rubbish)
- City Slicker (neat idea, but rock hard and tries to be too clever by half. The result is a unplayable mess).
PS. Please plug my not very popular Youtube channel where I play games on real hardware while often being ill prepared. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCifcRlP9KST8T0irCHyykrA
I bought the original Super Smash Bros. for the N64 on Christmas Eve 1999; I couldn’t remember why I’d decided to buy it the day before Christmas but I later realised 1999 was the year the Dreamcast came out. Looking at the Dreamcast release schedule the only game out at the time was Soul Calibur which is already bought, so I think I got SSB because it would be unthinkable to not get a new game off Father Christmas.
Anyway I really liked N64 Smash. I played the Gamecube one at a friends and didn’t like it (even though it’s now considered the best one).
The Wii one came out and I bought that one, I found it tedious.
It raises questions as to why I got the 3Ds one too. I didn’t enjoy it.
The flimsy answer of why I bought the Wii U version is because I wanted the soundtrack CD for getting both it and the 3DS version. I really disliked the Wii U game because I’d sickened my self with the 3DS one.
So guess what? I bought Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. And guess even whatter? I think it’s the best one yet! Maybe it’s just the fact that you unlock something every 10 seconds but it’s great.
Have you ever bought multiple entries in a series despite not liking them? Unfortunately it’s something I’ve done quite a lot, mainly with Nintendo games. I think I just can’t imagine Nintendo making games I don’t enjoy, but they do (Paper Mario).
I’m sure everyone else will be lamenting the end of Digitiser the Show, and congratulating you on its excellence: add me to the list.
However, my wife keeps asking me what I want for Christmas and I have NO IDEA except for some Dungeon Meshi books (which I’ve already read online and feel obliged to purchase, shhhhhhh).
Inspire me, Biffo. What are you looking out of Santa’s sack?
Also, I've asked for a nose and ear hair trimmer.
Can you please get Larry and the little Ghostbusters man to sniff more of Sonic’s rings please? The puking, facial expressions, words of despair and your reaction to them was the funniest thing I have seen in years. I really hope that there is a second season. Any Kickstarter plans?
I honestly don't know if I'm going to do another Kickstarter. I find fulfilling all the rewards to be a massive chore. It makes for a false impression of how much money is raised - because you have to pay for those rewards - and then is an enormous faff where we have to fulfil the rewards instead of just cracking on and making more content.
If I do more crowdfunding... there won't be physical rewards at least.
Hello Mr Biffo,
I’ve written to your letters page about how much I enjoy VR, what a massive leap forward I think it is, and how I generally recommend it to everyone. But I’m also aware of how many people struggle to get past the sickness that the early days of VR can bring. VR is like Jagermeister, if you overdo it, then you might find you can’t touch it ever again.
For me, the thing I love about VR is the possibilities for new gameplay. New hardware generations used to bring new gameplay by default (You couldn’t do the gameplay of Ridge Racer on a Snes, never mind the graphics and music, because the leap to 3D redefined what a racing game was).
Today it feels like we have reached a peak - most PS4 and Xbox One games could easily be done on previous generation's hardware - sure they would have lower resolutions and framerates, but the core gameplay is still the same. Mario Odyssey is his best outing yet for sure, but is it really something you couldn't have done on a a Wii? Ok, it wouldn't be in HD, but you get my point.
Astrobot creates new gameplay opportunities because of the VR and it is incredible. It suggests to me that Japan Studio has been learning from everyone’s mistakes over the past couple of years. As a result it has graphics that are crisp and clear (even on a regular PS4), and motion that doesn't make you feel nausea at all.
It uses VR in ways that I shouldn't talk about because pretty much every minute of play introduces a new moment of absolute joy. The game is about discovery of cool things that make you smile and laugh while you play, and it is packed with brilliant moments that make you giggle like an idiot.
VR seems obsessed with scale, sticking you in massive robot suits and having you jump off buildings. It’s no wonder it makes you feel sick. Astrobot reverses this by giving you a controllable character that feels the same size as Mario, but scaling up the world around him.
It makes all the difference, creating a new way of playing a platformer. Every level brings new surprises that exploit the VR in ways that no-one has done before.. The water level is surely the best swimming section of any game ever, the bosses are so well designed (and massive!). I've not seen a single 3D set piece that didn't blow me away. It keeps on giving and I don't want it to end.
AstroBot is the biggest "Oh my, this is outstanding" feeling I have felt since the PS1 replaced my Megadrive. So I know how I bang on about these things, but you surely have to give it a try. It will remove much of your doubts about VR, break you in to using other games without nausea, and I really think you should play it!
Cheers, Mr B.
I just saw on that clever technological Twitter thing that you were especially desirous of letters for this Friday's page.
I was going to type up a REALLY good one, with words in it and clever pop culture references, and maybe even some musical stuff (like a note on how I was surprised to see a Paladin album featured on Digitiser The Show a couple of weeks back; they only did two, didn't they?).
But I can't, because the effort I've expended on getting my latest retro game review up on YouTube has reduced my brain to the consistency and usefulness of wet linguine.
Truthfully, it's a miracle that I can even muster the synaptic responses required to type. I don't even know if this will be coherent by the time it reaches you. Sony Movie Studio has ruined me.
Actually, I've just started bleeding from my tear ducts as I'm typing this. So I'll go now.
I APPRECIATE YOUR WORK!
(age 41 and three quarters.)
I have a hankering for some Final Fantasy VIII (as well as some other games from my youth), but I see that it isn't on the PS4 store, all because, I read on ti'nternet, that SquareEnix were basically piss poor at saving stuff and binned the master files or something.
What kind of company just does that? Is that normal business practice? Were they blind to the possibility of future £ from re-releases and that? I don't know why it makes me so angry, but it does. You wouldn't just delete your kids when you're done with them would you? You may need a kidney in the future (kidding...… maybe).
So they should just remake it like Final Fantasy VII..... when they finish it.
Jim Leighton (Future World Darts Champion) x
256) Do you think that Sony should release another hand-held games console?
257) Can you think of any games that are currently considered perfectly fine, but that future generations will consider to be unacceptable? For example, I can imagine that relatively soon, Grand Theft Auto's sense of humour will upset people more than its violence.
258) Which style of game is most in need of new ideas e.g. the way that Metropolis Street Racer re-vitalised the racing genre?
259) Is the fuss over in-game advertising in Street Fighter 5 a reasonable reaction to an insidious act or is it fans being too precious over their game?
260) What in your opinion is the best computer game set in Britain?
257) Yeah, GTAV was borderline with its misogyny. It still sits uncomfortably with me. More unacceptable though are its controls. They really need to tighten those up before the next one.
258) To be honest, the fuss passed me by. I've no issue with ads appearing in games, if the games are free. If you're paying for something, however, then why should you have to suffer ads? I don't mind product placement, mind. Though now I've looked up the Street Fighter V fuss... it seems that this is something different; basically Capcom advertising its own downloadable content. Which does appear to be rather jarring, but apparently you can switch them off. So, y'know, these people can just shut-up.
259) Oh man. That's a good question... I'm going to say Everyone's A Wally - because I liked seeing the Post Office sign and the red phone boxes - or Urban Upstart.
Try this, daddy:
Now that you've done the first season (series? We're still British) of Digi, how you gonna take it forward if you do another one? What I mean is, would you make it more about the games or more about the guests and the challenges? Because I've enjoyed those a lot.
I mean, talking about games is all very fine. But you can't do Mario Vs Sonic every week. So I'm hoping the show will become more... unique. I've enjoyed the odd, out of kilter and possibly ill-judged bits like Kowalski the lobster man. But I'm sure people would also like to see more competitive face-offs like on the old Gamesmaster (or just for comedy value).
I think we all want to know if you games journalists are ACTUALLY any good at games. I would also like to see Street Fighter 2 For Real in series 2.
I hope you'll give the show time to really develop the dynamic between the different personalities on the panel. If you carried on for long enough, Paul Ganon's attempts to impress the lady gamers on the show with his factoids and his boiler suit could escalate to X-Files levels of sexual tension. Yeah. I'm not sure if the innuendo was there on purpose, but it never hurts to slip one in.
Also I noticed that Sonic the Hedgehog has got himself his own movie off the back of his recent collab with you. Not bad. I'm hoping it won't be in smellivision (just kidding! It looks like it's going to be terrible! Watching you inhale a bag of farts was much more entertaining!).
Lots of love,
The Real Frankie Fraser
Gaming face-offs are unlikely to ever be a part of the main show, unfortunately. I've just zero interest in people just sitting down to play games, and it doesn't feel very creative. I'm much more keen on finding ridiculous ways to bring gaming to life.
One thing that I do want to change is the Head To Head section. If we keep it I want to make it more dynamic - and I've an idea for how to do that - but we'd possibly introduce something new as a replacement.
We'll always have guests, though. One of the things I'm most proud of with series 1 is the calibre of people we've managed to get on there. We've still got a couple of interviews in the bank, which we'll put out as bonus episodes over the coming months.
In previous reviews I have written about balance and how the programme has found it almost perfectly. What I would focus on today is consistency.
When I used to work in a restaurant, I was always told that anyone can make a great meal for the first customer, but it's having the same standard for your 100th of the night that truly defines you. The situation is different, of course, but to me what episode 5 showed clearly is that Digitiser can sustain its currently level of quality across a series and not only throughout an episode. I feel that this is crucial for maintaining that most elusive of attributes - momentum.
The show's openings set the tone of the episodes well and this week's continues it. So far this has been the main segment where all panellists are given roughly equal airtime, and I am reassured that you have continued this consistently. After all, it could easily have turned into Biffo, Gannon and friends, with the others being sidelined. This segment is consistently good and never devolves into you all simply amusing each other, self-indulgently.
I was delighted to see the Man's Daddy appear finally - the character worked and that is a proud achievement given his somewhat esoteric nature. This highlights Digitiser's consistency at the moment - the old characters are not over-used and they impact each episode constructively.
Show & Tell does not need two panelists, but I thought that this week's benefited from Mrs Ashens and Hairs' presence. Again you have made an intriguing choice of device where the hardware is interesting separately from the games. While I felt that the machine was slightly more impressive for the time than you suggested, it certainly didn't look much fun. In every episode so far, Show & Tell is a highlight and whether by accident or design, you have a knack for putting the right presenter with the right equipment.
Dan Maher's interview was as strong as any that you have presented so far. While I wouldn't necessarily say that he was 'better' than the guests in episodes 1 and 2, the editing/production of the interviews has reached a consistently higher level.
Mr Gannon was slightly more restrained than he can be, and I thought that he was at his best in this interview - he has the ability to be humourous and incisive, and he put in what was probably his best interview of the series.
I do feel that there is potential for improving the way that the interview is shown visually e.g. split-screen. I think that you can only really improve the interviews themselves by having guests that the audience just happens to like more and, to be honest, that's totally subjective - really good work here again.
Pixeltionary is simple for me to describe - a good (highly original) concept that was executed well. I happened to think that Gameplay Jenny not being connected to a microphone made it even funnier, but was lightly unfortunate because I think that she's the most under-used member of the show - you've already addressed this, however, so I won't labour the point.
Digitiser's consistency is exemplified here because of the timing of the segments. Since episode 1 you really have the hang of how long each section should be relative to the entire episode, which is harder than it sounds. Segments like this allow the natural humour of the guests to shine without it being contrived.
Rare vs UPTG stood out for me this week, and if I had to pick a favourite segment, this would be it. It could be my imagination, but the last 3 episodes' debates have felt that you all 'care' more about these topics than episodes 1 & 2.
Obviously that wouldn't matter if you were talking nonsense or simply telling jokes non-stop, but the extra 'passion' comes through, and it really felt as if you were all putting forward your own reasoned arguments and not talking abut something because the show demanded it. As an added bonus (?), this was the first episode where by the end of the debate I was still unsure of my own stance, which I would argue is a credit to your own arguments. Again, consistently high-quality debates.
The Top 3 and Fact of the Week might be relatively minor parts of the programme, but they are essential. They work as a natural break for the viewer and provide variety at the right time. As in recent weeks, their placement is ideal.
I've written to you about Sniff Sonic's Rings before, so I will summarise here by saying that was hilarious for me. I had my doubts before the first time I saw it, but it was brilliantly done. Sonic himself was funny, and even though it was almost too-good-to-be-true, Mr Gannon accidentally sniffing the wrong bag twice was a genuinely great moment. I don't expect something so purely amusing every episode, but this was a really good way to end and also nice to have the variety in format and ending with something other than the usual challenge.
Episode 5 continues a great run so far and proves that you are not just getting lucky with a couple of good episodes. Digitiser feels like a programme whose team is growing in confidence, ambition and grasp - Episode 6 has plenty to live up to.