Saturday, November 15, 2003

Brain Dump

Is there no end to this insanity? Now the Rabbit’s gone and got himself a weblog.

Anyone got a Carrot? is a depositary for random bollocks, musings and half-baked ideas, robbed from round the internet and the far reaches of my mind. You know, the kind of crap I vowed would never appear on these pages.

And while I'm here, I'm currently writing a short storyaboutthe music industry. If anybody out there has experience of selling their soul to Satan in the name of Rock'n'Roll and wish to help me with my research, do get in touch. We could go on the Trisha show together.

Make Mrs Duck Laugh

The Make Mrs Duck Laugh competition is now closed. Thank you for the big, fat wedge of entires - a winner will be announced towards the end of this week, providing I survive my meeting with the Cheeky Girls.

Right on Commander!

Kids these days with their Gameboys, Playstations and broadband connected online games - they don’t know they’re born. When I was a lad, apart from having to live in a cardboard box in t’middle of t’motorway, working a twenty-five hour day at t’mill, I had me a BBC Micro. Thirty-two kilobytes. That is all.

Our school had a RS 380-Z, and impressive looking machine that was kept under lock and key by the stern Mr Dupre, who would grudgingly give you the key for the duration of morning break. Seeing as you had to download the Operating System from cassette, you’d just get the thing running in time to switch off again. I took a peek inside once. A fucking huge box, with about three tiny components inside it, which that balding twat was guarding as if his life depended on it. What a swiz.

You can’t get a computer these days with less than a few gigs - can you imagine writing software for 1980s computers with 32K? Or the ZX-81 with its massive 1kB of RAM. The mind boggles.

But people did. Defender - 14kB of shoot-em-up heaven. Frak! Citadel. Repton. I was particularly addicted to a football management game which played out the action in chunky Mode 7 graphics - the type you get on Ceefax - and led to the mighty Arsenal being champions of the world no less than seventeen seasons in a row. Then Ian Bell and David Braben came up with Elite.

Elite was a space war and trading game where you captained a craft scooting around eight massive galaxies, buying and selling commodities and shooting up the baddies. There were whole armadas of different ships, space stations and planets, no end to the add-ons for your craft and every mission was different. With pretty efficient wire graphics and responsive controls the experience was pretty damn realistic to the untrained 1980s eye.

You started off “Harmless” with only a crappy pulse laser to defend yourself, and about ten bob in the bank. From there you’ve got to learn to handle your ship and get to grips with the most difficult part - docking with the space station. Get enough money, however, and you get yourself a docking computer and some meaty weapons, so the universe had better cower before you as you rise to “Mostly Harmless”.

It took me about two years to rise to ELITE status, gaining a “Right on Commander!” every 256 kills, and shifting as many illegal weapons as I could carry. Meanwhile, back in the real world, my O-Level studies went to pot, closely followed by the A-Levels. Damn you Elite! However, I did have the reactions of a fightr pilot, and impressed the RAF recruiting guy with the best pilot’s aptitude test he’d seen that year. With alien space cruisers swimming in front of my eyes, I failed the interview.

I know longer play, but you can actually download an Elite emulator for your PC from several sites. I daren’t - I’d never get anything done. It took me years getting my fingers straight again after they got used to the bizarre key combinations to play the bloody thing and I’m not going through that again. Besides, Simpsons Road Rage on the PS2 - that’s where it’s at. Only another ten thousand dollars, and I unlock Krusty. Hey hey!

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