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"Creativity is allowing oneself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."

Scott Adams 
 .:[ Boom, boom! ]:.Posted: 12:17 on Sunday, 02 October 2005 
State: bemused  Music: none 

i've just watched the Basil Brush Show on the CBBC channel... it's a quiet Sunday afternoon, okay?! Anyway, i don't think i've seen a kids show that "self aware" for a long time now; the characters make several references to their script (and not remembering bits of it), the props, costume changes or the crew whilst talking directly to camera or the voice over!

But that's been done before, what surprised me was, during an episode which was a parody of I'm A Celebrity called "Celebrity Bush Whack", where one of the younger characters (Mister David, since Basil still insists on prefixing names after all these years) explains about how premium rate phone lines work and that their parody show was making a quid a pop for all the calls they were receiving to vote for evictions!

The question is... will any of the children watching get the point and spend less time phoning these things?!

 .:[ Things going missing ]:.Posted: 00:01 on Tuesday, 04 October 2005 
State: tired  Music: Gekioh 

As an "after market" games developer, thing that's always sort of... well, worried me for want of a better term is left-overs. No, not the Christmas turkey, i mean those little blocks of graphics and data that are included in a game but never actually used; sprite animations that never get assigned to an object, background tiles that never appear in the final level maps, background characters that don't get onto the screen. i'm not a neat and tidy person in the real world, but i've been known to spend quite a bit of time removing orphaned material from my code, thinking "well, the pros don't leave spare parts lying around". Of course, this is wrong.

The first most obvious example that really should've occurred to me before the end of that last paragraph has to be the hidden boss ship graphics in Warhawk on the C64; an earlier version of this Star Force "clone" featured guardians at the end of each level which were removed from the released game... but the sprites were left in the memory. Both the full game and the earlier version (sometimes badged as Proteus) are at Gamebase 64.

But more interestingly is the next generation of pros, in particular Sonic Team and the rather fabby Secrets Of Sonic Team site. SOST is an exhaustive archive of images taken from old magazine articles as well as prototype cartridges or discs and, more interestingly, has an equally exhaustive list of orphaned graphics that have been located in the various media; everything from extra items like a pair of goggles Sonic was to wear in the original that are still in the ROM image to decrypted pictures that were prototype select menus for the Dreamcast version of Sonic Adventure whichar are unused in the final game (they appear in a preview video, also on the site) but still on the CD. That makes me feel heaps better about a couple of unused tiles and orphaned characters in Cyberwing and a few spare sprites floating around in Warflame i can tell you!

 .:[ It's a small world... ]:.Posted: 17:07 on Tuesday, 11 October 2005 
State: average  Music: Battle Squadron 

Well, i had conclusive proof that, as the Disney ride insists, it is indeed a small world after all; diving aboard the Retro Gamer "lifeboat" that is the Retro Survival forum i chance upon a figure from my past... about seven or eight years in my past when i was a regular nuisance around rec.arts.drwho in fact! The sheer coincidence of A) bumping into another person from so long ago in such a random fashion and B) him recognising me after all these years from a pseudonym is... well, the maths must involve probabilities that look like VIC-II registers! Still, it's always nice to renew old acquaintances... =-)

In other "news", the Boss and i had a little outing to see Nanny McPhee at the weekend. i umm-ed and ahh-ed about how to describe it to be honest, it's sort of like Mary Poppins on acid in some respects but at the same time i'd say it's far more enjoyable (and it took a while to forgive Dick van Dyke for the "Maori Parpens" accent!)

The story is relatively simple, Colin Firth's widowed mortuary worker father character is struggling to make ends meet whilst his children are making a habit of scaring away nannies to the point where they're scoring survival times in hours; when the agency can't or indeed won't supply any more victims, a mystical voice-over hints about Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson, daughter of original Magic Roundabout writer and voice artist Eric) who promptly appears on the doorstep accompanied by thunder and lightning...

In all, it's an excellent film, with a sterling performance from Thompson (whose track record for film is good even if that BBC light ent series from the 1980s is best forgotten) and Firth does a good Hugh Grant impression without being annoying. Worth a watch because, although you'll guess the outcome about five minutes in, it's still good, soppy fun getting there!

 .:[ A couple of rants muses. ]:.Posted: 12:46 on Saturday, 22 October 2005 
State: slightly miffed  Music: Hybris 

Someone's nicked one of me fonts! Okay, so there's something i didn't expect to say in 2005 but it's true, issue 167 of PC Home magazine has a mock-up "retro" game on their front cover; it's built from a still of Space Invaders with a few colour and scanline effects for no real reason, a background of shade lines and the score bar has been done with my font from Cyberwing! Yes, i'm sure it's mine because it matches pixel for pixel (compare it to the screenshot on OSG and it's pretty obvious). Maybe i should kick up a fuss...?

One thing i have kicked a teeny fuss up over is the forthcoming Retro Ball event; not the event itself i hasten to add, which is for charidee and therefore worthwhile and i wish the organisers the best of luck with it and urge people to go and make some money for good causes. What's got me annoyed is that there is a retro game coding competition being organised and, for some reason, the version of "retro" being used here seems to totally exclude entering games written on actual retro hardware.

i wouldn't say i actually champion coding on the old hardware, but it's something i'm very keen to see happen and i have been known to chase a few people around with an assembler in the past - so it's nothing short of frustrating when an event that purports to be about retro gaming does this. It would be like going to one of those fan-operated railways that celebrates the "golden age of steam" only to find that they were using modern diesel locomotives and rolling stock.

 .:[ Odds and ends of October ]:.Posted: 01:34 on Monday, 31 October 2005 
State: sleepy  Music: Born To Be Best 2 

Wandered off with the two littlest darlings to see Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit yesterday, i haven't laughed that hard at a film in quite a while and it was the adults laughing more than the kids throughout; not just the very funny main plot and moments like the BunVac 6000, a machine that collects rabbits by sucking them through their own tunnel systems, but all the little touches like the assorted cheese pun titles on Wallace's bookshelf, the hamming up of background characters, assorted movie and genre parodies... things kids just wouldn't get. Absolutely cracking stuff and well worth going to see, even if you have to be the only adult without a kid in the entire cinema! Oh, and watch all of the end credits, there's a little touch after the copyrights.

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