So, after a rather challenging week, what we probably need is some sweet Friday Letters action to pick us all up.
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 to this place here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Let's do this.
I write this letter in the somewhat late news of the latest Sonic game containing a make-your-own- character thing. I am not really sure how to feel about it to be honest.
On one hand, I used to like the Blue Blur back in the day, and a part of me still appreciates the super short time (if you're good) running though The Green Hill Zone. I also found plenty to like in his admirably buggy and overall, not good, but somehow enjoyable and silliness that came from his early 3D games, when most old school fans decided he was no good no more.
Also, despite not being enough of a fan to create my own Sonic Style Character, I will admit I have a soft spot for games which allows such a thing. I managed to entertain myself for hours making Miis on the Wii, and borrowed WWE games from my friends, despite knowing next to nothing about the sport just to see what style of freaks I could make fight Hulk Hogan and Company.
On the other hand, I am not what I would call a Die Hard Sonic fan, and very much past aware that his track record for good games has been very poor, like that bollocks with the hover boards. And the guns (okay, that was Shadow, but still). Also, its hard to think about "Sonic OCs" or the current Sonic fandom without a high degree on cringe.
On the Other OTHER hand, I do not want to look down on the people who will treat any new Sonic game as The Second Coming. I feel I was like that once (but not as bad... I hope), and do not want to bully people who's only crime in being passionate about something they love.
While Sonic based OCs weren't my jam, I did make up cringe stories "roughly" based on super cool characters, like Sonic, but they were actually me. That eventually led me to learning how to make stories and characters without a cringe factor (or at least less of one) without resorting to self-insertion or blatant plagiarism. Gotta start somewhere and all that jazz.
So, that concludes my thoughts on New Sonic with extra rambling. On a completely different note, I have a Found Footage question: Do you use old timey equipment to get the old school look or do you "fix it in post"?
Funnynameson Jones from Not-Kent
Anyhow. Found Footage... all the olde-worlde effects are done in post-production using a variety of techniques (reducing the saturation, upping the blur - using plug-ins). I'm playing around with it a bit more in the full series, so that each clip has a slightly different look to it - always somewhat retro-ish, but pushing the colours and the degraded quality in different ways.
There used to be a bloke on London's Tottenham Court Road - in the basement of a bag shop - who sold bootleg tapes. It was all done by word of mouth - he didn't advertise. Obviously because what he was selling was, technically, illegal. You had to head downstairs and ask to see his book, and he'd hand over a big, ring-bound folder, which listed all the bootlegs he had.
I used to love getting them - there was something about the hiss and crackle of a bootleg, the distorted sound, the accidental snatches of conversation, which I always found really interesting. That's something I'm trying to capture, but with video, in Found Footage.
I sometimes like the older production on records too; it made it somehow more other-worldly.
I’ve been thinking about Found Footage.
You say that there are clues strewn about the place and some are retina-detachingly obvious. Being a self-confessed master of the obvious, I couldn’t help but stick my sticky beak right up its sticky hole.
It hit me like a pink diamond bullet - this is a right old sausagefest, amiright?!
I donned my thinking cap (cone-shaped and emblazoned with a proud ‘D’) and pulled my best analysis squint.
Xenoxxx… sounds like retro filth. Xenomorphs married with a blue XXX quality. Less a fairer sex and more a stranger one. Or XENO-X XX… Y, could it be a chromosome reference?
I know you like the Aliens movies and as any fan will tell you, Giger’s penismen are officially recorded as XENOMORPH XX121.
Som shi' down wit dat, aight, dawg?
Indeed it ruddy well is! The clip of the fleeing bottom is obviously an Alien parody… The Alien movies are notable for strong female characters…
Yes, this is half-baked psychobabble but I’m as convinced as a drunk sailor looking for love in a Bangkok club.
Am I woofing up the right old bark or just cocking my leg for a piss? Throw me a frickin' rib here!
Once the series starts, you won't have long to get some answers.
Just thought I'd let you know that I'm going to Disneyland on Monday.
Man... I'm gasping for a holiday... I always get like it around this time of year, when my creative batteries need a bit of a flash-charge. Plus, given the state of things in the world... I could really do with something to look forward to.
It's exacerbated because I didn't get a summer holiday last year, through a combination of relative poverty and having been punched quite badly in the face. Consequently, I've spent much of this week looking up Orlando deals, and quietly weeping at my inability to afford them...
Too... many... children...
1. Even though they don't have a great reputation, somewhat deservedly, there have been some good games based on films. Which one have you enjoyed the most? Also as publishers no longer seem to make 'games of the film' i.e. recreating specific scenes, do you think that that has helped to improve their quality or hasn't made any appreciable difference?
2. Platformers were previously the dominant genre of game, critically and commercially up until the end of the 16-bit era. While not so bound to a generation the same could be said about real-time strategy games. Which, if any, of today's popular game styles could be the next to disappear from prominence?
3. Does anyone remember the football game European Champions? I had it on Amiga and thought that it was brilliant. It had many innovative features and it played more like modern FIFA/PES than the original FIFA.
Goldeneye has to be the best surely? And that rather closely recreated the movie.
Though I loved Star Wars: Dark Forces, and that was an original story set in the Star Wars universe. Actually, though... the one I have the most fond memories of is Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, point-and-clicker on my Atari ST. Weird that. Ultimately, it's just down to the quality of the game - doesn't matter whether it sticks closely to the story or not.
2. I think there has to come a tipping point with open world map-moppers. Open world games won't go away, but that Ubisoft model has become such a cliche now that somebody is going to find a new approach to it sooner or later... and then everybody is going to copy that.
3. I don't remember this.
The recent talk of the Dredd movies made me wonder what you make of any of the 2000 AD fan films, for example this...
Personally I can never manage more than about 5 minutes of most fan films. The people making it do a fabulous job with the look of thing, but the dialogue and performances are often so ropey it can be painful watching. So when people (traditionally idiots) say things like “no-one watches science fiction for the dialogue and performances” well they’re wrong aren’t they.
It's partly why I've kept my role in Found Footage to a minimum, because I don't think I can act. I only get in front of the camera when there's nobody else to do it, or something humiliating is required that I couldn't possibly ask somebody else to do.
I wish I could do the effects though; it's the one area of Found Footage that I've found a struggle. I've earmarked a small pool of the budget for some CGI... but I do wish I knew how to do it myself. I'd love some visuals like those seen in a lot of fan films.
A long-ish time ago when I was a young boy, our class at school got to do some painting for the day, using those lousy, chalky poster paints you'd get.
It was pretty fun and all, and at the end, as we were discarding all the unused paint down the sink, I thought it might be fun to swirl my hands through all the liquid and mix it all into a chalky grey slurry.
What I hadn't considered was that in doing so, I'd be left with grubby grey mitts. Oopsie daisy! I went to the little boys' room to wash my hands (I don't know why I didn't just use the classroom sink), but when I got there, I hit upon a spark of innovation. Why not spruce up this boring boys' bathroom? Give it a bit of pizazz?
I promptly pressed my grey hands against the bathroom wall, creating a row of prints above the sinks. I stood back and admired my handiwork (pun INTENDED), rinsed off, and returned to class.
The following day, at the school assembly, our headteacher stood at the front of the hall and started bellowing with rage. "SOMEONE has DEFACED our beloved boys' bathroom. They have SMEARED disgraceful handprints ALL OVER THE PLACE and the poor caretaker has spent all morning cleaning it up. If ANYONE knows who has done this, please report to me AT ONCE".
I was stunned. Mortified. I wasn't trying to be a neucance. It wasn't an act of vandalism. It was art! An attempt to liven up the bathroom with, thinking retrospectively, a fairly drab colour. I started panicking. Would they trace the unique handprints to my DNA? Did someone in my class see me making the grey slop in the classroom sink? I was always a good boy at school. I couldn't bear the thought of getting in trouble, especially as I had wholly good intentions. And so, I said nothing.
I have kept this secret from my school teachers to this day, some 23 years later. I hope that if they somehow read this letter, they can find it in their hearts to forgive me and somehow move on with their lives.
Anyway, what do you think of rogue-likes? Do you have any favourites? Spelunky and Binding of Isaac are totally killer.
James "Couk" Downing
I got caught up in the various promotions of Mass Effect Andromeda before it was released. I watched the official videos, previews and what not and, although never having played a Mass Effect game before, decided it looked like a game I would enjoy.
I like open worlds, I like collecting stuff and I love stats and levelling up weapons. I pre-ordered it and when it arrived I sat and played it for a few hours (at least 7 hours).
Did not like it one bit.
Couldn't definitely say what it was I didn't like, but I just did not enjoy it at all. I instead downloaded the Nier Automata demo and loved every second of it. Returned Mass Effect and swapped it for Nier.
I am still playing Nier and although there are a few weird technical oddities, the game itself is full of surprises and keeps the interest and joy of wanting to play a video game, and I get to collect stuff and upgrade my weapons. I love to do that!
My only criticism is the main character's wardrobe choice which seems ill designed for manic combat. Can you even walk on sand in high heels? And no, I haven't looked up her skirt when she climbs up a ladder. Ok, I have.
Anyone who says they haven't is a liar.
I've been tempted by Nier, but... I fear I'll hate it like I did Yakuza 0. So much so that I didn't even bother reviewing it, because it seems so beloved, and I couldn't be bothered with all the grief.
I went to the Retro Rivival: The Rivals last Saturday.
I met the wonderful Mr Biffo and the equally wonderful Dave 'The Games Animal' Perry. Neither were a patch on me mind.
It was a brilliant day, even though it cost me just over £70 to get a taxi home - my Smoking Brother decided to drive home because my nephew (he's six) was bored. Bored?! At a free-to-play retro thing?! Some people.
Delicious day though, and I shall be attending again next year.
Oh, I fell over later in the day (not booze related) when I got home - I think it's something to do with the concussion I have from two or three weeks ago. Also, I need to have a shave. I also wish I still lived in America with my gorgeous wife - not divorced (yet), but hey - she might take me back... and she's probably reading this too!
I am not fit but I'm incredibly strong,
P.S. Gaming Mill and Mr Biffo!
hi can you imagine a scenario where all the punctuation keys and special characters on my keyboard stopped working even the return key so that i could only type this email as one huge long sentence and the shift key doesn't work either so i cant even capitalise to differentiate sentences i suppose if writing something like can not i could keep it in long form rather than cant but i just cant bring myself to do it do you see what i did there ho ho so yeah if ocean were to make a game of found footage but back in the 80s what kind of game do you think it would be regards bruce flagpole ps this was harder to do than i expected but about as funny ie not particularly.
Incidentally, your punctuation and grammar-challenged letter was only slightly worse than most of the emails we receive.
I was on holiday and saw this:
Hello Mr Biffo - IF THAT IS YOUR REAL NAME,
I tried going to channel 888 on my tellybox, but instead of the expected Triple Snowman Channel, I ended up stuck on something called Psychic Today. They weren’t even psychic snowmen.
How do I claim my licence fee back, and/or find the snowmen?
Local street artists have been at it again. Here is their latest work, which I believe is the most pitiful attempt at a Dalek ever..
Talking of which...
The physical tribulations I've shared over the past few weeks are over, but in their place came a mental malaise that I seem to have shaken off for now this evening. I enjoyed your writings about being a mental and it inspired me to write my fourth book, which I include here:
MR BIFFO AND THE BIG SHOP
Once upon a time there was a boy called Mr Biffo who used to be a very good boy, but due to recent multiple egregious violations of toilet etiquette was just a boy once more and we’ll say no more about it. Mr Biffo was sitting quietly rubbing his tummy, and hoping that poo would come out if he rubbed in the correct way when his parents said “Mr Biffo we will make you a deal: if you go to the shops and buy the shopping for us we will upgrade you back to a good boy, although a very good boy is still some way out of your reach until we've somehow managed to get the stains out of the walls and ceiling.”
Mr Biffo yearned terribly to be a very good boy once again, and figured that being a good boy was A Good Start, so he immediately agreed. He asked “What shopping do you need me to buy?” And his parents said “Well now, I’m sure a good boy would know that” so Mr Biffo said “OK, as I am striving to be a good boy I will decide” and off he went with one of those new plastic five pound notes that are made of beef or something. Anyway.
As he roamed the aisles of the shops, Mr Biffo felt a big one coming as he filled his basket with delicious treats and when he came to his final stop the enemy was at the gates and he could hear their buglers. He decided to use the self checkout to get done as quickly as possible so he could do toilet and scanned through all his items then he thought he heard someone call his name and that was when it all went wrong.
As he turned to see who had called him he felt something shift in his tummy tums and a 15cm long poo poo blasted out of his botty bot, through the back of his shorts and landed on top of the bag of shopping he'd just packed as if he'd sneaked a nutty Snickers into it as a treat. As he turned to see this and groped to feel the ruined tatters of his shorts, he felt a flow of warm stinking horror seeping down each of his legs.
Silence fell, and was suddenly broken when the self checkout said “Surprising item in bagging area”. Then Mr Biffo woke up because it had all been a dream and hadn't pooed the bed or up the wall but he had done a poo in a carrier bag and thrown it out of the window at a passing vicar THE END
I think that it might be the second worst thing I've ever written but I will let the audience decide its fate, whether that be for it to be carried on their shoulders through the streets to cheers, or kicked to death in a back alley for being too ugly to live.
OK BYE HAVE A NICE WEEKEND
I was confused when there was no letters page today, then I realised that having no work tomorrow, because of the bank holiday and me taking extra days because I am lazy had thrown off my brain.
Anyway, with the recent release of Bayonetta on PC and today's release of Vanquish on Steam, do you think games deserve a second review based on how they were "meant" to be experienced? I love both games so for me it's like revisiting a game except how I actually remember it.
Sort of like playing Manic Miner and the start screen having music played by an orchestra instead of an Amstrad Em@iler trying to phone a home that will never answer.
I think Resident Evil is the best example of how it should be done, but if the gameplay is the same is it just being brought up to date for modern audiences or a cynical cash-grab from drunken Sega employees shouting out orders from the capsule hotels where I assume they now have their offices?
Robert Lindsay, Stuart Lindsay's father, here. What do you think of fidget spinners? My local carousel man, Keith Sweat, is selling them for £5 apiece. Reckon he's dodgy?