Archive for the ‘Playing’ Category

Road trip time

Monday, October 21st, 2013

The more observant visitors to my website (both of them) have already noticed that the photos and associated gallery both went live a week back but due to things in the “real” world and work deadlines getting in the way, a post about the Play Expo (which was on the 12th and 13th of October) failed to materialise due to “life stuff” and writing deadlines jostling for attention.

As with last year, the event itself was vast; Event City is a huge venue and, along with a significant increase in the numbers of people through the door, there was also more to actually see once inside; there were stands for the new Assassin’s Creed, Nintendo’s Wii U and Oculus VR’s kit but to be honest those don’t really interest me, but I did get a chance to chat with the people behind the FUZE, a solid all-in-one shell around a Raspberry Pi and a BASIC interpreter which is primarily aimed at education but they’re hoping to get some indie interest as well.

There were loads of machines out to play with too, including an Apple IIc and Commodore PET (both of which I believe conked out during the weekend and we were aware of some “electrical burning” type smells fairly early on which may have been the latter) and a couple of VIC 20s just opposite where Oldschool Gaming was set up and a range of other kit from ZX81s to reasonably old but networked desktop PCs, all running games and left there for people to play.

The Oldschool Gaming stand itself was back, completely lacking in branding as always and twice the size of 2012, spanning a whopping four tables (with a fifth containing the Games That Weren’t stand in the middle) and seven of the machines out were mine…

…which were (left to right) an Atari 800XL, two C64s, an Amiga 600HD and a Raspberry Pi running Chameleon Pi so it could be an Apple II or ZX81 emulator with…

…an Amstrad CPC464 and the “trusty” Spectrum +2 (which scared the hell out of me the night before the event when the PSU on the CF converter arced itself to death and took my only spare CF card with it which lead to a mad scrabble to find something that could be “recycled”!) The remaining two machines were an Intellivision and an Atari Jaguar with a white case which were brought along by Mark Ball and Kevin Dempsey respectively and that’s their backs in the picture above too. Sadly, Kevin couldn’t stay for the Sunday but we ended up with a Vectrex running some new games and prototypes instead.

Apart from the event’s food being pretty expensive and not much cop with it, the only “issue” I had was that Dave Footitt was premiering his brand new BBC Micro game Mountain Panic (which I’ve been waiting for since Console Combat back in… well, it was few years back now) and, because that stand was on the far side of the hall from us, the first I heard about it was on Facebook back at the hotel on Saturday evening! Next time I’d really like to see all of us homebrew and indie development bunnies (preferably including people like Llamasoft) all in roughly the same space because it just felt a little spread out this time around.

I’d like to say a quick but more thorough thank you to Spencer Guest, Mark Ball, Kevin Dempsey and Frank Gasking for helping out and turning up with their own gear this year, offer some more general thanks to the organisers who made it possible for us to be there and wave generally at people who made Play a great weekend. To finish off, here’s the gallery of twenty eight images (including three taken before the event) which is, as always, more about machines than anything else although there are a few more cosplayers in there this year.

Weekend away to Wolverhampton

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Friday through to Sunday I was in sunny Wolverhampton at the race course, not because of a newly-developed gambling habit or anything but due to it being the venue for an event called Revival. I had some of Oldschool Gaming‘s machines with me (a C64, Spectrum +2, Amiga 600 and Atari 800XL as well as a laptop with the previously mentioned Hissing Sid preview in an Apple 2 emulator and a desktop which spent most of its time running the fabulous Genetos). Some photos were taken as well, so here’s a member of OSG staff looking after the machines…

A lot of the hardware around the event had SD or CF card readers bolted into them; there was a HxC in one of the Amstrad CPC6128s which was running R-Type 128, most of the Amigas seemed to be CF converted, a ZXPand was bolted to the ZX81 and so on but the one I’d never seen before which was really clever was on an Memotech MTX512 and the interface had a VGA out going to a second display which was used to select the image to be loaded!

On the subject of clever things, a mention really has to go to the Fix It Felix Jr. machine; the cabinet and Jim Bagley’s code both looked the business and it quite rightly saw lots of use over the weekend.

There were quite a few rare machines scattered around the event (some of which are in the gallery) including two Bandai Pippins on display, one of which was actually connected up and running a game! I didn’t dare touch the thing…

And, although I’m honestly not making a habit of accosting cosplayers, this happened…

There are fifty images in the gallery itself which are mostly pictures of machines rather than people because, when talking to said people, they were far too interesting and the camera was forgotten!

I do like to be beside the seaside

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Yours truly went to Kent last week and, along with visiting family and popping into the retro gaming shop in Canterbury, I spent the Saturday in “sunny” Margate with a couple of friends at the Games Expo East Kent event, known as GEEK for short. And, as with the visit last year which didn’t get a blog entry, I wasn’t there under the Oldschool Gaming banner so got a chance to actually play a couple of games, including vertical blaster Ghost Pilots on the Neo Geo (which I had a couple of swings at last year as well) and a quick go on the C64 version of Dropzone. That said, more time was spent talking than playing!

Here’s a gallery of pictures taken during the course of the day; t’was a little dark inside the Winter Gardens (and in the street afterwards where a couple of images were taken) so my poor old Kodak C433 didn’t fare particularly well, but it managed to get quite a few decent shots including this one of two cosplayers who’d just met a grinning idiot!