Day 162 - reviewing, and reviewing

by PaulEMoz in , , , , , , ,

I wouldn't say I've been having writer's block lately... although I have had a few problems with what I've been writing for the blog.  I've had a couple of articles on the go, one of which is unfinished because I realised it needed a lot more research, and one of which I'll probably bin because it just feels like something is missing and I don't know what that something is.  I might be able to re-use some of it, but for now, I've cast it aside.

It's not all bad, though!  The book is steaming ahead at a steady rate, although none of the recent work has been juicy, from-the-horse's mouth stuff.  Instead, I've been writing my mini-reviews of games, which has seen me do a bit of interesting re-evaluation.

I really wanted to be a games reviewer when I was younger.  The lads at ZZAP! 64 were to blame for that... they got to play games for a living, and made it sound fantastic.  You imagined that they had a right laugh in ZZAP! Towers, too.  I applied for a Staff Writer's job there when a position opened up after I'd left school... there was no chance I'd ever get it, though.

Howay the lads!
I used to write my own ZZAP!-style reviews of games.  I even had a BASIC program on my Commodore 64 which separated all my games by genre... you could select the genre you wanted, and then choose a game review.  I was quite pleased with it, even if it was made up almost entirely of PRINT statements.  Computer programming has never been my forte.

That's really how I've ended up doing this.  I was lucky enough to write for the fan-produced Issue 107 of ZZAP! 64, and its subsequent Def Guide tribute.  And from there, I went on to write a fair number of games-related articles online, which really whetted my appetite for writing.  Going from online magazine to blogs to book seemed the most logical progression.

I'm a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride...
Anyway... back to what I've been doing lately. I've been choosing a programmer who I would like to include in the book and then playing through all of their games.  I've then written about each game, and taken screenshots.  My intention is to be well-armed when I go out to them about their games, and then I can add their comments and edit my pieces where necessary.

It seems so much better that way, that I don't know why I wasn't working like that before.  I suppose that organisation was never my strongest suit, either, but it's something that I've found coming to me over the last five or six months as I've worked on this, and that's how I'll continue with this from now on.  I'm improving my working practices all the time... which is pretty good for something that is essentially a hobby.

You saw me standing alone... I actually played this when it was originally released.
It's also forced me to have a look at how I intend to lay out the book.  My intention has always been to write about a programmer and their games, with comments from them on each where possible.  But an issue has cropped up there.  There are games, and there are conversions of those game.  Whenever someone wrote an original game, there was a fair chance it would be converted to other platforms... but not usually by the same person.

So, potentially I could be writing about the same games twice (or even more than that), on many occasions.  And it strikes me that, although there would be different challenges involved for each person's version of the game, it might not be that great to have different sections about the same game spread all throughout the book.

I don't know what I might do about this yet... it might be too early to tell.  I might find a way to tie together all comments under one heading... but then I'd be writing about the game, rather than the programmer.  Maybe my original idea is still the best one.  Luckily, it's something I can continue to play with as the words mount up.

Day 55 - toddler trouble

by PaulEMoz in , , , , , , , , ,

I'd hoped to have more time to work on things today, but my two-year-old was playing up a bit, so it was child care for me.  I don't know what was wrong with him, he just wasn't very happy, and although he was screaming at times, it wasn't quite a terrible twos tantrum.  Still, it was a bit wearing, but it did provide the inspiration for the game I would play and gather screenshots for... the only acceptable choice for today was Jack the Nipper.

Published by Gremlin Graphics, the game was released first on the Spectrum courtesy of a team which included Greg and John Holmes and then converted to other formats by Greg, Pete Harrap, Jason Perkins and Mark Rogers.  Don't worry, they're all on my list of potential interview candidates.

Christ, no wonder the kid won't sleep, there's a ghost in his room!
The game sees you placed in the pants of an infant miscreant, and the object of the game iss, well, to cause trouble!  There are plenty of objects scattered around town to help you do this, and you can even combine some to even greater effect.  Beware, though... annoy the townsfolk too much, and Jack will find himself on the receiving end of an almighty botty-spanking...

It's a fun little game.  Some aspects of it remind me of the Magic Knight games, but it most definitely has its own character.  If you were never a fan of games where you have to pick up objects and use them in the right places, then Jack the Nipper would not have been for you.  But it's definitely a memorable title in 8-bit gaming history.