Tuesday, 31 March 2009

20 years on - I blinked

Twas Easter 1989 - or 1988, I can't be completely sure without checking with the Foolscap Boys - and a series of remarkable things had happened. 

I had been given a considerable sum of money, and something even more valuable - total creative freedom - by young millionaires Richard and David Darling, founders and then owners of Codemasters Software.

Why? Well I'd approached them with an idea for a rockstar management game, but a management game with a spin. This one would be totally irreverent, original, and (ahem) funny. And so it was to be. 

Looking back they took considerable risks, legally as well as financially, with a game that was so different from what they - or anyone else for that matter - was producing. Richard and David were great, they found a fine young artist from Liverpool - Chris Graham - who was an excellent caricaturist, and basically let me get on with it.

They even went along with the title I wanted - A Rock Star Ate my Hamster. 

Allister Brimble provided a mind-boggling piece of music mix and match for the game and everything was going to plan. 

The first version was released for the Easter holidays, everything was set. Expectations were high.

Then Good Friday came, and the game was removed from the shelves. Throughout Britain, by at least two major chain stores. Comprehensively and stupidly.

A couple of jokes were found offensive by a store who sold gun magazines and porn. Another store jumped in nervous reaction. I checked with my local stores, and they confirmed that the game had been pulled. They didn't know when it would be back, but one offered to sell me a copy under the counter. Pah.

We lost Easter and the game peaked at number 2. You can see the offending material here.

Happy days though. And the game is still a cult today. Which leads me on to a decision I recently made. After a self-inflicted absence of around 20 years - give or take - from games writing I've decided to do it again.

Am I excited? Yes. Nervous? No.

Everything's changed of course. Will I be retro? Who knows.

Yes, everything's changed. But actually very little has. I left the industry knowing that a new form of computer entertainment would soon grace our screens. A better, more original entertainment beyond shooting, jumping and sports simulations. For every media throughout history has developed and blossomed into a fantastic field of creativity hasn't it? Comics, films - they all grew far beyond their original form and produced fabulous, breathtaking works.

So take a look at your kids. What games are they - and you - playing?

20 years. I blinked. And absolutely nothing changed.

Monday, 30 March 2009

the medium is the massage

Napster, and a few other suppliers, now supply quite legally a subscription-based music service. I can now pipe my choice of six million tracks (and counting)  into my living and dining rooms for slightly less than £10 a month. As many tracks as I can listen to from the worlds finest artists - bar a few notable exceptions to prove the rule of course. 

Last week in my house the world changed. Last week the world in my house changed. What do I do with the space where my CD collection used to be? What do I listen to next? 

Ah, but is the bitrate/compression ratio/voiceprint technology of hifi quality, I hear you ask?

Who cares, I reply. 

A dream came true that I never even knew I'd dreamt.

Friday, 27 March 2009

goodbye joomla and thanks for all the fish

Techheads only will be interested to know that this weblog thing has now been transferred away from Joomla and into Wordpress. Joomla's great, but just too slow, unwieldy and confusing for my needs.

Astute readers will notice a timeslot lapse since the previous (movable type) entry. Yes, a few blog entries got mislaid along the way, but to be honest you haven't missed much.

Friday, 6 March 2009


Lightness, what a lovely name. I think so anyway. And a fine way to get back into software.

It struck me one morning when I was typing an email that it was easier for me to write using my email program than it was using my word processor.

There was simply less to get in the way.Six months and a few skinny latte with fries later, lightness is born. Wonderfully simple, elegant and light.

Pick up a free trial today. Go to www.infinitycafe.com