Still, here's a bumper Digitiser2000 Friday Letters Page to tide you over until Tuesday. It truly is the "post" with the "most", the "mail" with the "pail", the "correspondence" with the "borrespondence" and so on and so forth.
From next week, we'll be giving away 100 or so of the above Xenoxxx Industries stickers, as featured in the upcoming series of Mr Biffo's Found Footage. For the cost of postage and packaging only we'll send you two stickers free of charge while stocks last! All that we ask in return is that you shove one of your stickers somewhere (mostly legal) that might confuse and bewilder members of the public (and send us a photo of it).
Anyhow, 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 - please send your emails for next week to this place here: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have the phone number of Nicky Campbell. I know that sounds odd, but we have actually spoken a few times - it all comes from the time that he did that programme with David Brent (I meant the magician bloke, but I can't remember his name right now).
He only lives about nine miles from me in one of his houses, same sort of distance that one of my sisters does. Never visited.
I'm going to go and drink some vodka now with my imaginary wife whilst watching On The Buses that my excellent Corrupt Uncle 'lended me'. She wants to play World Of Goo, but I might have misheard her.
I am fit and strong and that is all.
PS. On The Buses is shite.
I'm going to be a dad soon. For that I cannot wait. At the moment my home life is the best part of me, and I see finally becoming a father only making home time better, worth working for with more resilience, perspective and patience. This is good.
I'm also getting married, to a girl I love so much that even though I swore I'd never believe in marriage I was happy to break an oath in admitting that I wanted to swear my love to her, through a kind of counter-oath I guess... Everything is, and should be, good.
But today, apparently because of something as small as a meeting in work, but really for no reason I could coldly discern, I broke down in tears for half an hour whilst I was talking with my boss. I've tried to account for it, and I get that there's more pressure now on my work life in knowing I'll be supporting one more life, and all of that. But in a time when I was hoping to (and am expected to) deposit more strength I was utterly withdrawn. Words can make this prettier, but it honestly was not at the time - and still is not now.
You have written about the challenges of new parenthood, and undoubtedly many of your readers are parents too, I just wanted to ask is this kind of searing emotional crumble, seemingly indirect from the joy of having a child, something commonplace?
Also, my plan is to get the new Zelda on Wii U for my birthday in mid-June with the hope of completing it before early September when my son / daughter comes.
One day I'll write you a letter unmolested by morbidity, but on that day I'll hopefully be too happy to remember the time to write.
Not that an alternative ever came into my head, but y'know. I wanted to prove to everyone that despite my age I could be a good and responsible dad. Plus, even at 18, I already kind of wanted to be one (although maybe not quite so soon). Being a dad feels more natural and rewarding to me than anything else I've ever done, so... I can only really comment on how it affected me. Which is going to be different to how it might affect someone else. I dunno.
Here's a funny thing: when I broke the news of my impending parenthood to my colleagues at work, one of them literally said the words "Do the right thing". That colleague? He later became Statto on TV's Fantasy Football. True story. On another occasion, I saw him pretend to be startled by a Christmas cracker, and fall off a chair.
Bottling stuff up is rarely useful though; sooner or later you have to deal with it, or it comes out in ways which aren't healthy or unhelpful. If you are struggling... don't just struggle on. Speak to somebody about it. I mean - the sheer fact you're writing to me suggests you've got stuff you need to unload. And I'm not Claire Rayner, alas.
Although.... she used to live near me. Someone once told me that she wasn't very nice. I digress.
I hope things get better for you, Marc. Best of luck completing Zelda in two months, though. It's MASSIVE.
What is your opinion on writers having complete creative freedom, particularly in television? While it obviously sounds like a good idea, I'd say that sometimes having some limits encourages greater creativity and prevents programmes becoming too self-referential.
For example, I always preferred TMWRNJ more than Fist of Fun and I think it's at least in part due to them working around the restrictions of Sunday afternoon TV. I'd appreciate the thoughts of someone who actually does this for a living, though.
Did you ever play El Shaddai? I think that it had some of the best art direction of any game I have ever seen. The gameplay wasn't especially good (although not terrible) and if a sequel was made by Platinum games it would be a classic.
It depends entirely on who it is, I think. Sometimes it's a good thing - if the creator is talented and has a vision that would be otherwise watered down or compromised with input from others. Other times... if that creator is a bit rubbish, then it might result in work that is rubbish. I find that it doesn't always help to shut yourself off from all suggestions and input, though. Why turn your back on a good idea just because it isn't yours?
I do believe that sometimes people need collaboration to bring out the best in them, though. Whether it's a lack of self-belief, or whatever... a good producer or script editor can unlock potential in a writer, providing they trust a writer/creator's voice, and don't trample all over them, or just use that writer as a tool to their own ends.
I've no issue with stuff being self-referential and indulgent, however. To one extent or another, any creative endeavour is that. I mean, heck - that's what life is. Nothing is entirely selfless, and it does always rankle with me when things are criticised for being self-indulgent. At least then the work is being honest and coming from a place of truth. If you want to get really wanky about it, if you're creating "art", it has to be self-referential, or it's just going to ring hollow.
Why shouldn't someone indulge themselves by creating something they want to watch, play, read, or hear? Nobody has a go at a kid who makes a Lego house, to accuse them of being self-indulgent.
That said, 4 O'Clock Club - one of the shows I write for CBBC - is very much a team effort, and all the better for it, I think. It's a unique combination of input from several different people. It started as an idea from the comedian and rapper Doc Brown, I was brought in and added elements from my own life experiences, and executive producer Connal Orton steered the ship and helped set the tone.
Something I did look for on Found Footage, however, was a framework. With Biffovision it was obviously kids TV, and I wanted that sort of a framework with this. Why did it exist, beyond being a random assortment of stupid sketch-like things? If you set rules, it then allows you to break them and surprise people.
ATTENTION: No, I have not seen El Shaddai!
Are you aware that former Digi columnist Stuart Campbell is now one of the most influential, notorious and controversial political bloggers in Scotland? For someone who used to read Digi religiously it's a bit weird.
I've never felt the need to write to you before, but you said you were desperate so I'll do my best.
First of all, I'm loving Found Footage. I've been humming Wozniak for weeks now much to other people's chagrin. I am confident my Kickstarter money has been well invested in a lasting legacy of things that will make me laugh.
Erm so... my wife says I can't buy a Nintendo Switch as "theres that advert where it looks like they're wanking off giants in a pub". I have no intention of ever doing that, I just want to play Zelda. Should I divorce her?
Keep up the good work.
I sometimes wish I was a hammer. Which household object would you sometimes like to be?
A Passing Drunk
Have you seen the Greasy Strangler? I watched it recently and thought you probably wrote it.
Who's doing the next Thor movie, of all things.
"Thanks for the offer - but I had one before I left."
I'm writing about my first gaming memory because I watched a trailer today for a remake of the very game that introduced me to the world of games. That game was Wonder Boy 3 on the Master System, I think I may have been about 5 or 6 at the time. I thought it was such a great game and I hope when I get the remake next month that my memory isn't sullied. The art style does looks very good and it's a nice touch that they have added an 8bit option.
What was your first gaming memory Biffo and was said game ever remade?
Also I finished Titanfall 2 after your recommendation and enjoyed it very much.
Niall the Wondering Boy
My first gaming memory was probably finding a TV games console in the cupboard, which my mother told me was a gift for my sisters. Though to the best of my recollection, they never received it - and thus I never saw it out of the box. I'm still confused over that to this day, and my parents deny all knowledge of it.
The family did get a Binatone "TV game" however, and that was the first time I can remember actually playing a game. And it was a Pong-type thing. So, it was remade in all sorts of ways, I guess.
With your Sinclair listicle still fresh in the minds of those who are literate enough to read your pages, I think it may well be worth reminding you that the designer of the Spectrum, and indeed Sinclair's other hardware, has a Flickr account.
And what a treasure trove of delight it is too.
Here is Rick Dickinson's ZX80/81 gallery: https://flickr.com/photos/9574086@N02/sets/72157601627816164
And the Spectrum development one is wonderful:
I love these. The sketching, real cutting and pasting. No CGI here - I get the feeling that he got his hand dirty carving clay, or wax, or foam to try out shapes.
These are truly a delight to look through. While I've never really been a fan of the capabilities of the Spectrum, the hardware has always appealed: small, nicely executed, and with a unique aesthetic. It makes me appreciate the Sinclair computers I have more. Maybe I should put them in box frames instead of keeping them in a cupboard.
Oh, yes. Let's not forget the Z88 (like Biffo did): https://flickr.com/photos/9574086@N02/sets/72157600856913881 (I actually found the Z88 to be a very useful machine - probably the most useful thing I ever bought from the Sinclair stable).
Let's also not forget the QL, Sinclair's other folly: https://flickr.com/photos/9574086@N02/sets/72157600854938578
Enjoy this glimpse at history though the eyes of the man who styled the hardware.
Also, can you change the font in your site from Arial to Helvetica? Arial is horrible, and the uppercase R really upsets me.
So, this week has been very hectic and fraught at work so, naturally, I've been trying to avoid doing as much work as possible by holding long and rambling email conversations with a work colleague. Two of the richest seams of conversation revolved around strangling swans and racism in board games.
The latter was mostly laughing glibly about how board games with historical colonial settings tend to gloss over the use of slave labour, and referring to the little brown tokens as "workers", without being wholly up front about what actually was going on back then.
But then, more importantly, we got on to strangling swans. The best idea was to tie a swan to the front of a shopping trolley full of bottles of white spirits, petrol and lit fireworks. The whole shebang could be pushed into an orphanage before it went off for extra laughs.
And a single 'lead' firework could be strung around the swans neck causing decapitation at the crucial moment and providing a last minute spray of colour for all involved. I admit that this is not strictly "strangulation", but surely the end result would be worth the deviation?
So, your question is either a) What is the best way to off a swan, in your opinion, or b) What is the most racially insensitive board game you have ever played?
Love you byeeeeee.
Why are people so scared of swans? Are they really that dangerous, or are they just scary because they're a bit lairy? If you really had to take one down you'd just have to go for its neck surely? How hard can it be to snap one of those? It's just a feathery pipe, guarded by a beak.
The worst they're going to do is give you a bit of a nip. They're not crocodiles. Or Cerberus.
Or, y'know... if you're not into neck-snapping, just kick it in the face or throw a brick at it or something.
Dear Reginald. Now that you have more experience with video as a result of Found Footage, do you think it likely that you'll have another go at producing Digitiser-themed video content after you're done with it? I'm not necessarily talking about Let's Plays but maybe if you get a bee in your bonnet about, say, neo-Nazi YouTubers, you might unleash in a comedic yelling manner, or maybe do video reviews of games.
It might be that you absolutely prefer the written word for that sort of thing and, frankly, having looked at the two pitiful examples I've barfed onto the page, I think I may have just invalidated my entire letter.
Verdant Copse, London
Never say never though. I have started thinking about what to do after Found Footage is finished. I mean, I've loved doing it - I love the editing, and the creativity required. I like making video stuff very much. I did wonder about maybe doing something that was weekly, and a bit more topical and reactive, but more comedy than opinion.
But I'm not sure what yet... and whether it would even be possible to do that at the same time as Digi2000. Also: how best to fund it.
Suggestions on a postcard pliss (in the comments below).