What are your plans for the weekend? Answers in the comments, please.
If you would like to appear on next week's page, or you've something you'd like me to give some attention to in our occasional Plug Zone, which nobody cares about - please send your emails to this place here: firstname.lastname@example.org
I would like to know what your favourite video games media is, ranked by taste. Personally, I would rate the PS1 (One, Uno) CDs very highly, as their smooth black undersides feel delightful against the abrasiveness of the human tongue.
But... have I ever recounted my C&VG "Mini Roll" story?
I came home from school one day, and realised that I'd forgotten my key. I climbed over the gate to see if the back door was open. It wasn't, so I sat in the garden and read my copy of C&VG while I waited for somebody to come home.
I opened one page to find it covered with brown-and-white goo, which I assumed was from the Cadbury's Mini Roll I'd had in my packed lunch. For some reason, I decided to lick this off the page.
Immediately, I realised that it wasn't a Cadbury's Mini Roll.
It was bird poo.
C&VG: my least favourite games magazine ranked by taste.
1) How can I conquer the fear of moving from a stable 9-5 that provides guaranteed income, into a freelance career pursuing interests I enjoy that will not pay as much, or as frequently?
2) How cool on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the coolest) do you think the mustachioed T-Rex looks in Super Mario Odyssey?
Also, people seem to assume I don't have a job, and think I'm available to just drop everything and help them out with chores and lifts and that.
2) It looks to be at least an 8 or a 9. Though... it's weird isn't it - having stuff in a Super Mario game which looks kind of realistic? I really hope it doesn't feel too jarring.
An extract from a novel by renowned gothic horror writer, Bum Stroker:
"Once upon a time where was a little boy called mister biffo who was a good boy and hadn’t made a mess of himself for ages so was allowed to go for a journey on the train to see the dinosaurs in london just before he left home for the station he felt a pressing in his tummy-tum-tum so had to go to the toilet to help snip off a length of filthy spine and as he did so he realised then
MrPSB stopped writing. For the first time, his fecal musings had ground to a halt. The pen stopped. He tried to think about what would happen next, but his head felt fuzzy. Almost as if he had not slept for a few days.
Odd, the thought to himself. Maybe I need a drink. I’ll do the punctuation later, after some beer and co-codamol.
And then he woke up. He was lying flat on a table. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t really feel his arms or legs, but he could move his head a little, and his eyes. He managed to look around. The room he was in was dark, dank even. There was an odd, pungent aroma, tantalisingly familiar. Light from candles played on the walls in the distance. As his eyes became accustomed to the darkness, he realised that this was no ordinary room. Columns supporting a vaulted ceiling rose from a stone floor. The stonework looked old, and curious mosses and lichens grew in the cracks.
It’s a room, he thought. It’s a crypt. A mausoleum. He realised that he was not lying on a table, but a stone slab. He wasn’t restrained by anything physical. He was, he concluded, either drugged so he could not move, or held in place by some other force - maybe hypnotic or supernatural. Something troubled him about the place he was in. It seemed familiar.
He heard noises in the shadows. It wasn’t mechanical. It was a shuffling sound. The sound of rough fabric on emaciated bodies. Figures emerged from the darkness, slowly, but with determination.
MrPSB recognised them. His minor interest in stories of the undead snapped into his mind. He tried to tell himself that it was just a myth, but there they were, edging closer and closer. The smell growing more stronger with every step.
“Vampires” he thought. “These are vampires”. His blood ran cold and he recalled the hierarchy of the blood sucking races. He also remembered that there were vampires who had long since eschewed blood for other bodily substances, and at the the bottom of the hierarchy, below the mucus vampires and the piss-drinker were the lowest of the low. Those that gorged on fecal matter. The shit-vampires.
It was all clear now. The Nosferapoo had long since abandoned the gambles of night feeding, instead kidnapping their victims, hypnotically immobilising them, and force feeding them prunes and bran. Other vampires had long since abandoned them, rejecting their past associations and leaving them fester in their foul surroundings.
They were closer now. The smell was strong, and MrPSB could see the teeth. Long, gnarly, stained brown, they were longer than the traditional vampire’s - adapted to bite through the belly of their victim into their bowels. MrPSB was aware now that he had been fed on many times. His lower torso riddled with scars and half-healed wounds. Infections setting in as excrement and other bodily fluids mixed to form a fertile breeding ground for bacteria.
Scrawny, leathery hands held him down, ensuring no escape. Mouths open. Teeth ready. It was feeding time.
He tried to scraem, but couldn’t. He did what he only could. Time to recite something from his past, something that could help him escape the hell that was coming.
He closed his eyes, and pictured the green on black text: “Old game: here..” and forced himself to recite in his mind what followed.
Pain. Darkness. The sound of fevered slurping.
Back to the subconscious world he longed so dearly for. Back to his story."
Yay! E3 Week! Except I am a weird-type who wants to be noticed for being different, despite being introverted, self conscious and riddled with anxiety, and I believe from previous episodes of the Friday Letters Show, the majority of the other letters will be about E3, The Election or poo, so I want to think outside the box. So, here is a half-attempted plug:
Do you or people you know need a guy to provide a stupid voice to sell their high quality products? Are you creating some sort animation and need somebody to provide vocals for a talking rabbit or something? Do you want somebody to tell you to "Mind the Gap" but can't get hold of the official source from the Underground?
If you answered "What the hell are you talking about?" to any of those, then I know a guy. And that guy is me.
And I shall stop there because I am feeling too much like an attention whore as it is. My brain is all over the place.
Do you have any advice for somebody who wants to get into vocal work but too self-conscious to sell himself? I do have important stuff like quality equipment and a demo reel. Just not sure what to do from there.
Curtis Fakenameison, Hanging Gardens of Babylon
I've had a fair few people offer their assistance on Found Footage in various ways, but - candidly - we don't always have the luxury of being able to to take a punt. We, and everyone else, will always choose someone with a demonstrable ability over someone who says "I can do that!" or "I'd like to do that!".
Also, the more you do it, the better you get. And the better you get the more confident you'll feel. That will help you immensely.
I write with news of greatest import. As I pen this missive, it seems that Bubsy the Bobcat has once more escaped his captors and is roaming abroad, feral and rampant, sullying our land with trite catchphrases and obnoxiously-sanitised reparteé. (The base language of a Frenchman, for which I duly apologise.) Surely, now, we must all perish?!
The candle burns low, and I am fatigued, but I can consider no outcome more assured than utter annihilation. I think I shall be glad to put an end to it. Still, as the hour draws late and that furred, fetid form casts his blight upon our landscape, I dearly long to suckle your brain -- much as I did when we were young. Oh! Those summertimes.
Bless me, Biffo, with one last sumptuous morsel of your mental mucus. Tell me now: which gaming icon of yesteryear would you resurrect, if only such sorcerous wiles lay within your calloused grasp?
Are those the first rays of dawn? My eyes run fat and bloated with tears, and I can no longer greet the day.
Farewell, my sweet gherkin.
Hi, what's your opinion on short letters? Regards,
Kara Van Park
Can you tell us more about carrying a prop gun around after the most recent(?) London terror attacks and that?
I stupidly tried to get a cab from Euston, but because so many roads were closed off, I sat in traffic for an hour before getting out and walking through the vehicle-clogged, high-alert, streets of London, past armed police, helicopters overhead and all that. I arrived at the Tate all sweaty and late (good rhyme) to be confronted at the entrance of the Tate - for the first time ever - with a security check. They asked to look in my bag.
I unzipped it, and opened it - and there was said prop gun in there.
Well - I say prop gun. It was a plastic kid's cowboy gun, sprayed black. But realistic enough. I froze. Utter panic and terror.
I quickly snapped my bag shut as my "phone rang", and I suddenly had to go outside to take the call. I ended up putting the gun inside my laptop case, zipping it up, and dumping it in a bin outside. Awful.
My life is a weird sitcom. I briefly glued my mouth shut yesterday, because I tried to open a pot of Super Glue with my teeth, while lying on the bed. In removing it from my face, I ended up ripping off a chunk of beard.
What was the origin of adding 'me-do' to the end of other words? Was it from the Beatles song Love Me Do?
1. I have followed the E3 presentations with interest and while the show featured less stand-out moments than in some previous years, there was plenty to be excited about. I never thought that I would say this, but game of the show for me was Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. It must be the most incongruous combination - that actually works perfectly - that I have ever seen.
2. Games are often criticised for their alleged simplistic or heavy-handed approach to 'serious issues' and politics; Detroit, from this year's E3, being a good example of this. Due to the high degree of education and skill required in disciplines unrelated to social subjects, do you think that computer games are predisposed to less sophisticated assessments of serious subjects? My own opinion is that games can and will deal with any subject well but that the success rate will be naturally less than in other forms of entertainment/art.
3. What is your favourite arcade game ever?
2. I think games could deal with real-world issues in a decent way. Certainly, lots of Indie games touch on the heavier side of life (That Dragon Cancer, for one). But it's disappointing when the Triple-A games don't always strive for something a bit deeper. I still feel let down by the trailer for the new Wolfenstein. The original was a surprisingly smart game wrapped up in an FPS - but here they just showcased extreme violence.
Try Spec Ops: The Line for another FPS which doesn't shy away from real-world stuff.
3. Star Wars. The original one.
In response to your plea for letters, here's my report from E3, where I wasn't this week.
Highlight for me was the Microsoft "Meaning of Life Simulator". I stood in line with all the other patrons, awaiting my turn. The simulator was housed in a filthy marquee, adorned with poorly drawn cartoon characters, like you get on ice cream vans. From the entrance line, you could see the line of people exiting the attraction, faced slick with tears of euphoria, shouting nonsense words of joy and throwing their shoes at each other.
As I neared the entrance, I began twisting my crepe paper top hat in excitement! What wonderment awaited?
As I passed through the beaded curtain into the tent and my eyes accustomed to the gloom, who did I see but our friend, good ole Bill "Sass enough for three" Gates!
"Hello Funston!" He piped in his ethereal falsetto "Behold the meaning of life!". I followed his wildly flailing gestures to a massive screen on the wall. There, in all its hideous glory was a huge face, the likes of which I've never seen before and hope never to see again!
The face regarded me with scant contempt and utter the words I shall carry with me to my grave, dear reader!
"I cuss your browstons and all whom shall sail in them!"
Before I could properly comprehend such atrocity, Gates was upon me! Gibbering and squeaking, he got me in a headlock and dragged me to the exit.
"Don't let me see you round here no more!" He screamed! "Parse! Parse!"
Unseen hands dragged me out into the world again, where I wailed and threw my shoes at all and sundry.
And that, dear reader is the end of my tale of E3. I rate it 7/10, best year ever!
So the hot topic this week has been all about those huge big massive announcements at E3, like MS unveiling a super duper powered console and the ability to play really old Xbox games that you can probably run on your phone with an emulator. Whether there's much demand for either of those things is up for debate (maybe if they add VR support for the former, probably not on the latter).
Tenuously linked introductory paragraph out the way, two questions:
1) Beyond pricing, what will it take for VR to make that proper breakthrough with your average gamer? Uptake hasn't been that strong and it feels like interest has already plateaued. My own gripe with it is down to the movement - sure you can turn your head and look around and it's all wonderful and stuff, but it's not like you can just get up and wander about. You're either on rails / stuck in a vehicle or doing a weird hop thing from spot to spot. Is it actually possible to fix this?
2) Seeing as you've done the trade show thing loads of times, are there any games/consoles you saw at a show that you expected to be massively successful that ended up being a flop?
Cheerio and have a lovely day,
That said, I don't think it's going anywhere, due to its vast potential. But it might not be all-consuming. My money is on augmented reality being the big winner.
2. Hmm. That's an interesting one. It has been years since I went to a trade show, albeit just the UK ones - I certainly never got flown out to E3. There was a racing game that I once saw demonstrated - can't remember what it was called. It had roller-coaster-like tracks and cars with big wheels, and it might've been for the PlayStation.
But I remember it looking incredible, really pushing the technology... and then it just disappeared without a trace. Might've been from Gremlin or Elite, if that helps anybody's attempts to identify it.
Dear Lovely Mr Biffo. Undoubtedly the game I’ve played the most over the past couple of years has been Star Wars Battlefront, for the reasons you’ve stated in your journals. Namely, I’m rubbish at first-person shooters, but seemingly most people who play it are. The lack of offline campaign never bothered me. The other thing is that it’s Star Wars. It’s as close to running round the Jawa transport or flying an X-wing or stabbing a stormtrooper with a lightsaber as I’m likely to get, in all honesty.
Now, Battlefront II is coming out and it looks gorgeous, as all these games seem to do. Looking at the publicity it seems to be very much based around The Phantom Menace.
For me, and I know a lot of other SW fans, the feeling invoked by that film is profound disappointment. Do I really want to relive that in a video game? Is there a generation out there for whom The Phantom Menace is a defining moment in the way that Star Wars was for us tubby, middle-aged men?
Are there people out there yearning to relive the annoyingness of little Anakin, the blankness of Queen thingy or the utter dumbness of JarJar Binks? The campaign mode seems to be based around Rogue One, an average sci-fi action film stick of rock with Star Wars stamped through the middle. Looks like you get as play as the charisma-free Jyn Erso.
I’ll buy it, mind. It’s got some kind of PSVR content. The VR mission in Battlefront is great, if very brief. If they can do something similar but for the whole game then I’ll be pretty chuffed, even if I do have to play as one of those crappy pointless droids from Phantom which it seems you can play as, even though in the film they are inexplicably controlled by some orbiting spaceship.
Anyway, you’re the number one expert on all things Star Wars, games, goujons and spunking worms. What do you think?
Alright Biffo, you big hairy bum bum? As a long-time Digi fan and relatively recent discoverer of both the modern resurrection of said teletext sensation and the fact you're somehow still alive, it gives me some semblance of pleasure to be writing my first letter to your good (bad) self. That sentence was long, but I'm pretty sure it was still valid.
Anyway, I have an actual question rather than a fever dream in which you poo yourself/on someone else, which seems to be a bit of a change these days (much like the nappy change you need after yet another one of your little brown mishaps- okay, I did it anyway).
My question is thus:
If technology hadn't advanced beyond the SNES/Mega Drive era (16-bit, at a stretch rudimentary 32-bit depending on who you believe), do you think games would still be a "thing"? Would certain genres be all but dead due to a dearth of ideas? Would some strange new genres exist due to developers being forced into a corner? Would anyone even bother releasing new consoles if there were no noticeable advancements? Etc.
That is the question. I hope it gets past your strict editorial standards and contains at least the minimum poo quota to be allowed on the letters page. If not feel free to add more. That's it.
Also: don't call me a hairy bum bum. That's really hurtful.
Thanks for printing my last letter. You're short again, and slim pickings is right where I fit in. Here's a picture of what I had for my tea tonight; looks like the mascot of an ill advised meat-based 3D platformer promoting butchers from back in the day to me**
Question: what have been your most/least favourite game characters over the many years since time began?
As you can see, we weren't short in the end. I probably shouldn't have asked for more letters, as we're meant to be preparing for another day of filming, and I'm sat here answering these instead.
Answer: least favourite games character was Bubsy the Bobcat - by far. Favourite... probably Nathan Drake from Uncharted. Or Pac-Man. There you go: two extremes, which both work brilliantly in their respective games.
Apologies if this arrives late, but I got worried when you said you were light on letters this week. Ergo, I am sending you this.
I have enjoyed watching the various video reports back from E3. I really like the look of Mario Odyssey on the Switch. I was holding out buying one until the Mario game came out. I loved Mario Galaxy 1&2, but wasn't as keen on Super Mario 3D land - I'm not sure why entirely.
This new one looks to have all sorts of quirky mechanics that look fun and seems to be more in line with Mario 64/Galaxy. I will definitely be buying a Switch when Mario is available.
Also liked the look of the new Yoshi game. I just hope they don't make it ridiculously easy like the Kirby Epic Yarn /Yoshi Wooly World games.
What game or games from E3 tickle Biffo's crispy biscuit?
Anyway - yeah... I'm looking forward to Mario Odyssey, but I do find the New Donk City parts a bit weird-looking. And it remains to be seen how the hat-possessing gameplay works. But, well, it's a Mario game, by Nintendo, and it's unlikely to be anything less than great.
Other than that... IF there's a single-player option in there, I really want to play Sea of Thieves.
I hope this goes some way to filling up the letters void this week.
Did you ever encounter the TV show First Class? I'd almost completely forgotten it, being little more than a foetus when it was on. Essentially, it was a proto-Gamesmaster where school teams played Paperboy and 720. It was my first introduction to arcade games and it was like a dispatch from the future. Of course, watching it now, it might as well have been filmed on a Kinematoscope and feature penny-farthing jousting.
I also just want to thank you, and by extension Mr. Hairs et al, for all the tremendous fun Digi's brought since I was in high school. My brother and I have been quoting "I cuss you bad" for the best part of 20 years now. When Digi went grim and joke-less it was like a death in the family. I'm so glad you're back! James
P.S. Can we see more of Hadwin the Focks? Of all the bit players on Digi, he cracked me up the most.
Also: as you were nice to me, press reveal for only the second ever appearance of Hadwin the Focks.
Well, apologies for the lack of updates but after the showdown things got strange. After we agreed to throwdown on the precinct me and Maxamilion were chased all the way from Boots to the nice Dixy Chicken by some local toughs and we ended up having to hide under a brown tarp for 3 days.
During this time we discussed our hopes and fears and love of Pot Mash and it turns out we have a lot in common. We both have a love for archways and tennis balls. I think I've fallen in love.
But with the way the UK government is headed is this a wise thing to pursue?
I bought a meat grinder last week. It's ace! It doesn't work well with knuckles it seems... but I suppose that's a bonus.
I missed my hospital appointment through fear, regarding my knackered foot. Alas, my mum and her fella turned up to pick me up. Why?! If I had made it there I would have driven myself there - in my bright green racing car.
I've been playing Little Nightmares that I bought a day or so ago - so reminiscent of Inside I thought, but quite frightening too. I love it.
I am not fit but strong and that is all.
Dear Mr Biffo
This week I have been back to work after a week off last week because of human rights and the EU or something.
While I was off I wasted all my time sleeping, playing Elite Dangerous, and watching anime. No, I don't know why I'm single either. It must be the beard. I am looking forward immensely now to playing Mario Odyssey and will definitely be buying a Switch for that, and then Xenoblade 2 will be out in December, assuming I've not died first.
I have included below my latest book, which I hope you and your readers will enjoy, but even if you don't it has filled a gap on the page seeing as you say you are lacking for letters this week:
MR BIFFO AND THE DEFECTIVE HAT
Once upon a time there was a fine young fellow called Mr Biffo, who everyone agreed was a very good boy, if not indeed the very BEST boy there had ever been. Mr Biffo was out one day walking to the shop where he had purchased a hat the day before, to give the shopkeeper A Piece Of His Mind due to various faults with his purchase.
Mr Biffo strode purposefully through the door of the Hattery and as the little bell on the door tinkled, an icy tingle shivered up and down Mr Biffo’s spine, and adrenaline began to pump through his body.
“Good afternoon Mr Hatmaker,” he said
“Why if it isn’t young Mr Biffo! How is that hat I sold you yesterday coming along? I see you are not wearing it today!” asked the hatmaker cheerfully.
Mr Biffo reached into his bag and retrieved the hat in question and placed it on the counter.
“Goodness, whatever has happened here?” asked the hatmaker. “It appears to have been stained all over with some kind of stinking mud!”
“Well,” said Mr Biffo “I would like to return this hat for a full refund as it is Not Fit For Purpose as per my rights under the Sale of Goods Act 1979.”
“This is a puzzle,” said Mr Hatmaker, “I do not understand what has happened here or why you would make such an accusation, after all it looks like it has gotten dirty from the inside, not that it has been subjected to the usual attempts by exterior mess to penetrate its fabric. Indeed, it appears that it has been sorely mistreated during its short time in your care.”
Mr Biffo fixed him with what he hoped was a harsh stare. “Anyway. Allow me to lay out the grounds on which I am making this apparently extraordinary but entirely justified claim. Upon leaving your establishment with this hat yesterday, initially pleased as punch with my purchase, I proceeded down the high street towards the bus station. Halfway there I felt an urgent signal from my large intestine that it required emptying, and that it was currently filled with precisely ten gallons of miscellaneous faeces that I would need to find a new home for.”
“Let me just say, I can see where this is going and I don’t like it” interrupted the shopkeeper.
“You may well feel ashamed shopkeeper, for I found myself in need of a receptacle for this oncoming storm, and all I had in my possession was this hat, advertised on the very shelf upon which it sat as ‘ten gallon’. Now, I thought to myself, ‘the hat is waterproof, so it should suffice, and indeed the stated volume matches suspiciously well with the amount of liquid shit I needed to expel.’”
“Can you just get to the point?” asked the shopkeeper, increasingly irritated and preemptively disgusted with what he knew was coming next.
“Well, I placed the hat upon the ground and unleashed my feculent wrath upon it, but despite claiming a capacity of ten gallons, I had scarcely completed one gallon of my enthusiastic filling, when it became clear that the name ‘ten gallon’ was just that - only a name.
"I suspect about three quarts or so had passed my outer ring road when suddenly the hat began to overflow. This overflowing continued, until a muddy brown river challenging the Amazon in length, width, colour and total volume drained was meandering lazily down the high street, cascading down the kerb and into the nearest drain.
"Having finally completed my business, I looked at the hat to see that it had acted as an impromptu strainer, allowing the liquid fraction of my excreta to flow freely away, leaving a hat filled with the more solid commitments I had made to the integrity of your hat, but alas not so much as the tiniest glimmering nugget of gold.”
“I’m not giving you a refund just because you filled a perfectly good hat with poo.”
Mr Biffo’s tummy suddenly did a rumble and he looked a bit cross eyed at the shopkeeper.
The shopkeeper’s change of mind was as rapid as the onset of Mr Biffo’s tummy discomfort.
“On second thought here’s your money, get out.”
“With pleas-oh no” said Mr Biffo, and three pints of rotten arse cola carbonated with flatus exploded all over the Hat Man’s shop, then Mr Biffo woke up because it had all been a dream and instead of trying to get a refund for a hat he’d fallen asleep with his head down the toilet
I look forward to continuing our special relationship,
"The podcast is called Calmer Chameleons and it is a comedy sketch podcast featuring a wide variety of characters (one-offs and recurring ones). I'm trying to work with a wide variety of voice actors so as to keep the comedy feeling fresh and unexpected, especially as it often veers into surrealism."
"Now that I'm six episodes in, there should be plenty for the Digitiser crew to put in their ear canals, and new episodes are coming every two weeks."
The main Podbean page is below, but listeners can also find them on Stitcher, iTunes and a whole host of other podcasting solutions, apparently. You may also want to check the Calmer Chameleons Twitter account (@calmermeleons) or Adam's personal account for more "updates and bizarreness" (@HorseMorsel).