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
After the recent announcement of a Judge Dredd TV series and my subsequent geek-clench "pleasepleasepleasedon'tf---itup" I finally had an idea for a ¿Digi-qué? (letter).
If you had a second crack at Old Stoney Face, this time in TV land, what bit of Mega-City weirdness would you want to include?
Also, what style of tie-in game would you be a-wanting? A GTA clone might be too big of an ask, so I'd be quite happy with some X-COM style doings - I think I once read that X-COM Apocalypse was originally going to be a Dredd game.
Finally also, speaking of Julian Gollop games, I've recently backed his next game "Phoenix Point" which tickles my fancy right up, oh yes. One for the Plug Zone?
You have to ask the question WHY you're making it. I mean, beyond it just being that Dredd is a recognisable brand, which could get a few bums on seats, what is it that justifies its existence? What's the message? What is it about - beyond it being about a fascistic cop who shoots people? What's the theme?
Dredd's an almost impossible character to get right in film or TV. He works in comics, but you need some sort of emotional hook for the characters when moving him to another medium.
Anderson in Alex Garland's Dredd movie was clearly that, and the Stallone movie humanised the character to the point of him not being the character, but for me I wouldn't make Dredd the main character or the hero. He'd be more like a force of nature - something that's representative of a loss of democracy. I mean, the second you make him the hero you risk condoning fascism, which I think is a risky proposition for film.
For me, it has to be about the citizens. That's what you need to see more of in any Dredd project. What is it like living in a world where you fear Dredd kicking down your door? Make him distant and remote, and put the focus on a group of pro-Democracy "terrorists". The classic America storyline could be a good basis. I doubt it has ever been more timely. Also: Captain Skank. Always had a soft spot for him.
He's called Captain Skank, for pity's sake!
How excited am I for Found Footage? I've made you a promotional image (rendered in Teletext style using authentic techniques) starring Bimba "Bamber" Gascoigne! "Press reveal" to find out his favourite video game character of all time.
Keep up the good work.
Biscuits The Lovely Character
Yesterday (it was a Sunday) I had to go for an MRI scan because they need to see inside of me before they cut me open. It was dead claustrophobic and they made me wear headphones because the nurse said it's dead noisy.
Jesus, talk about loud! I now know what it feels like to be a cassette loading in a ZX Spectrum. Added to the fact was that I had a scanning time to match the loading time - I was in it for 40 minutes. Apparently they had to keep restarting the scan because I got really bad cramps in my legs and it made them start to tremble. I was told to stay perfectly still otherwise it ruins the 'shot'.
God knows how those Victorians managed to stay still for so long for their photos (it was probably easy for the photos with the dead kids in though). Ah well.
I am (soon to be) fit and strong and that is all.
1. It seems to me that there are less 'success stories' for crowdfunded games in recent times. Games launching and the enthusiasm for projects is nowhere near the level of a couple of years ago. I would confess to being very reluctant to back any more games on Kickstarter, as I am tiring of games being delivered late.
Games are complicated and development is challenging, I understand, but too many projects seem to feel no obligation to stick to their advertised schedule.
I am also concerned by how the site seems to be becoming more of a way for developers already possessing a publishing deal to gauge interest for investors. Have you backed any computer games on Kickstarter and if you have, what is your opinion of the platform's suitability for them?
2. Which of the Sierra adventure games did you rate most highly and how do you feel that they hold up today?
3. Did you ever receive any good games merchandise/promotional items in the Teletext Digitiser days and if so, what was your favourite?
Obviously, I think crowdfunding is the best thing ever - I couldn't have done Found Footage without it. Well, I could've done, but I'd be bankrupt now. I think crowdfunding is a brilliant thing for any creator - games, stupid YouTube shows, or otherwise. It allows things to exist without the need for an enormous audience. That commercial viability is what has stood in the way of creativity for far too long - and it allows niche stuff, like Found Footage, to be made.
Remember - you can support Digitiser2000 on Patreon as easily as clicking this link!
2. My favourite Sierra games were the Police Quest series... until they went all sort of simulation-y, and lost their charm.
3. The one that stands out was the severed hand in a massive jar full of dirty water that we received for one of the Resident Evil games. On the whole, most promotional stuff tended to be t-shirts, which never got worn, and would end up being given away to readers.
How do! The PS1 articles debacle aside, the SEGA one was very interesting, got me reminiscing and such. Do you or any of the readers remember Decap Attack? Worthy of a remake? This handsome chap thinks so!
Jim Leighton (Future World Darts Champion) x
Ubisoft are gits who make "churned out, by the numbers dross", but I own a vast number of their games which I very much enjoy.
I loved Far Crys 2-4, Assassins Creeds 1 - Black Flag, hell I even played the crew!
Recently I loved the very broken The Division and thoroughly enjoyed Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wild Lands.
Yet despite all this they are roundly hammered by all, including me. Is their reputation unjust and are we just mean or am I just fan of crappy games? Dictated not but not read.
My main issue with Ubi is them sticking to a formula that is starting to wear thin. There surely has to be another way to approach open world games? It feels increasingly as if the changes are superficial, and I'm playing the same game over and over.
Excellent article on Monday about award ceremonies, and your views about winning and losing. You also recently did an article about software publisher's competitions, and you've mentioned running some yourself on Digi for Dixons vouchers.
I've noticed in the comments, a few of your readers have mentioned winning prizes. Decent ones too, Gadget Show, Postcode Lottery, Golden Balls etc.
My first wife was obsessed with entering competitions, she would enter dozens monthly. She won a few here and there but nothing to get excited about. Interestingly enough, after we'd parted I heard she switched her crazy on to getting herself on TV game shows.
Managing to get on Strike It Lucky (the last ever episode before it was rebranded as Strike It Rich). She didn't win anything though thankfully. My own biggest ever win was a sweet £20 on McDonalds Monopoly.
So my question Biffo is: What's the best prize you've ever won in a competition?
At a Marillion fan club event I got picked to be a contestant in 'Who Wants To Be A Marillionaire?', and won. I got a bunch of tat, as well as a one-off CD of the band playing The Beatles' 'Let It Be'. Obviously, nobody but a Marillion fan would care about this, but it's something I cherish (ie; it's in the shed with all the other CDs I no longer have need for).
Reading your articles last/this week, I was struck that a couple were described flip sides on a theme: the disastrous Atari presentation at the Planetarium, and the back-slapping television awards.
Both performative; both somewhat insular to the industry and it's culture, while intending to reach outside it; but one was about exposure and the risk that accompanies it, the other indulgent, congratulatory, assured an atmosphere of success regardless of the fortunes of individuals.
Here's a thought: most industries have an identity of some kind, but it can be hard to pin down. Dozens or hundreds of companies around the world, often rarely in contact - do they know what their collective culture is?
So are these presentations and ceremonies - along with conferences and conventions that sit somewhere in between them - the markers of an industry's identity? That while the scream of a failing Atari might shake them, friends and competitors alike can still gather to reassure themselves that they still have purpose; to take comfort in the winners.
Perhaps it's easier for the creative industries, where the product is itself a showcase and the public generally are interested. But even the obscure and esoteric stump up for their hour of Dara O'Brien, often, as the commenters noted, spending a fortune to watch rivals win.
I dunno. I mean, maybe I've just been too close to it all, but it just grates with me that any one person - film star, rock star, politician, middle manager, YouTuber, whoever - is given a status above another person. Talent has something to do with it, of course, but all too often it's because they're the ones who are either most desperate for power or adulation, or who most readily throw their toys out of the pram - and people are too fearful to stand up to that. Look at Trump.
I just think... why should we automatically reward that behaviour, and tip-toe around them? We should be doing the opposite.
I know you wrote a lot about RPGs this week. I didn't get that involved in them, but I did play a lot of other games with friends, and others at games meets, in the past. One I came across was a card game called Grass. Did you ever come across that one? It was basically about making drug deals, and it came in a hessian bag. The artwork was rather funky too.
Actually not a bad game, and usually a good one for a wind down if we’d spent ages playing something like Diplomacy all day.
I remember dragging a friend (who got hives in a record shop in Soho - a story well worth retelling sometime) around London looking for this game. We never found it, but the laughs of going into somewhere that sold games and asking “do you stock a game called Grass - it comes in a rustly hessian bag” was worth it.
I eventually found a set - probably in a shop in Harrow (which seemed to have a lot of weird obscure stuff).
The other day you mentioned that you hated Spyro but your daughter really liked it at the time. The idea of you having a family back when writing back in the day has shaken me somewhat.
I also remember when you wrote something for PC Zone back in 1999 or so and they published your picture. Us A.D-ers were a little shocked to actually put a face to a name, thinking you looked rather too swarthy and so forth.
I don’t know, I think I always imagined you living this wild life, drinking gallons of gin (which you have already debunked for me) and running puffy jackets out of town on a rail and generally being everything that a game-addled youth would find ‘cool’ in an adult without cringing.
I also don’t know what on Earth you were meant to look like. You were some magical being who made funny appear on our screens and were all things to all people.
Now I don’t know what to believe any more.
Love and kisses,
PS: My mum loved The Snakes and Fat Sow
Ask yourselves: how often do people comment on your appearance, and how much would you like it if they did? Just sayin'. I don't get mortally wounded by it like I used to, but I suspect I get an above-average amount of comments about what I look like. Maybe people are just surprised. Dunno.
But yeah, I had kids very young. I was already a parent by the time I started working at Teletext, and had my two youngest during the Digi era. It wasn't until my 30s that I started going out a bit more, but that was kind of down to being a bit fed-up and lonely. Despite all that... objectively I've probably lived a life that could be regarded as interesting and "cool". I'm very grateful for it.
That said, most of the time these days I sprawl on the sofa and watch YouTube or binge Netflix. Wouldn't have it any other way.
Just a quickie... did you ever see the jokes that come up on a computer now and again in I think series 2 of Look Around You? They were very much 'you'/Man's Daddy. Almost felt like one of the writers was paying homage or something. That Peter (big surname) fella who voiced Darth Maul.
Oh, I know what else.....are you interested in 'Front Ends'? The software that puts together emulators in one lovely package? I guess the first question should have been about emulation, though I think that's been brought up before. The front ends make it all lovely and delightful.
Ruddy amazing they are, and the one I use (if I'm allowed to say - 'LaunchBox') is easy as to set up. Being able to play any machine from the beginning up to PS2 (and higher with better computers than mine) at ease is big and lovely and a bit randy. Henceforth! I shall build me an arcade unit too. Innit!
Through that, I've met Peter Serafinowicz a number of times, and on one occasion he told me that Look Around You had been influenced by Digi. How true this is don't know - he might say it to everyone - but I know he was a fan, and a big gamer. And yeah, the teletext jokes in LAY were obviously very Man's Daddy-ish.
I know nothing of these so-called "Front Ends", but I do love me a bit of emulation. What a shame so many old games are rubbish.
Dear Mr Biffo, you will be pleased to hear that my bottom burst last week and, while seeping is continuing, the pain caused by the buildup of pressure has abated.
It has been replaced by a painful shoulder this week, which I think is either due to sitting funny at my desk and it being some kind of RSI deal, or just sleeping funny. Every subsequent motion making it worse.
This has also lessened today, so I'm well on the way to being mended. Now, while I think my second book may not have been as well received as the first, with second outings of things always being a bit tricky and its shift in focus from poo to political satire which may have left some of the audience behind, the third in the series is a real doo-doozy, and I include it below for your readers' viewing pleasure.
MR BIFFO AND THE RETRO GAMES SHOW
Once upon a time there was a very good boy called Mr Biffo who was once moderately famous as the writer of a stupid teletext games page then he wrote a book and a website and some children's TV programmes and Eastenders once and also a shit film. Mr Biffo was sitting watching his television one day and rubbing his tummy while singing his favourite song which goes "I am Mr Biffo I am the master of the poo poo, I am the lord of poo poo and I like to go poo poo poo" when the telephone rang and his ringtone was the sound of someone saying "Poo poo!".
Mr Biffo answered his phone and it was a man from Retro Games Show who asked if because Mr Biffo was such a good boy he would like to be rewarded by appearing at Retro Games Show and telling everyone what a good boy he was. Mr Biffo was very excited by this because he was a VERY good boy and had recently gone as long as three days in a row without doing poo in his bed so he accepted and the man said "OK it is on this Saturday and also Dave Perry will be there" "Oh BOY!" said Mr Biffo, because Dave Perry was his hero. Anyway.
The big day came along and Mr Biffo travelled to the Retro Games Show on his own because he was also a big boy as well as a clever one and when he arrived he said "Hello I am Mr Biffo the very good boy I am here to tell everyone I am a good boy" and the Retro Games Man showed him the stage and then Mr Biffo saw Dave Perry but he wasn't wearing his signature bandana any more because he wasn't as much of a wanker as once he was and Mr Biffo said "Where is your bandana?" and Dave Perry said "It is here" and took it out of his pocket and then Mr Biffo said "Can I put it on" and he put it on his head and Dave Perry said "hahaha!" but really there was a look of sadness and rage in his eyes then it all went wrong because Mr Biffo did a poo in Dave Perry's bandana and put it on Dave Perry's head and Dave Perry said "This is worse than the time I lost on Gamesmaster" and left in a huff with poo poo dripping down his face and Mr Biffo said "Oh no I have made him into Dave Poo-ry!" and everybody laughed and had a good time and Mr Biffo was thought of as a good boy by everyone even though he effectively did a poo on a legend's head.
Mr Biffo then saw MrPSB in the audience and thought “oh no” and then his misgivings were well founded because MrPSB threw a poo at Mr Biffo and it went all in his beautiful hair and he woke up with a start because it had all been a dream except he hadn’t pooed the bed this time but he had done a poo all up the wall instead. THE END.
I hope you enjoyed this new book as much as I enjoyed writing it, it is dedicated to each and every one of you. BYE
Hollow pipes run down the walls
There’s screaming from across the hall.
Filters screwed into my ears
Should sift out sounds I shouldn’t hear.
A metallic tang from my bio-drain
And an empty tube inside my vein.
The flow is late again tonight
All month long it’s been so slight
Sedative, nutrient, anti-rad
Anti-depressant, aren’t you glad?
Lifelong citizen, true and loyal
Weekly med-visits to lance the boils.
Antibiotics to treat the infection
“It’s vital your cloaca pass inspection”.
Screen on the ceiling over the bed
Flickers on and glows blood red.
“BEGIN SLEEP CYCLE” intones the vox
The word above reads: Xenoxxx
Undernourished, weak and frail
My voice, a whisper, I manage “Hail”
Around my wrists, restraints pull tight
Circle, Triangle, Cross. Goodnight.