Just a feeling

But this week is turning out bad politically on both sides of the Atlantic so far…

currently playing: Stars – Midnight Coward

And The Mystery Man Is Revealed

It was J. Nash, all-round good egg and excellent chap all the time! Heavens!

currently playing: Stars – the big fight

Peppermint Patties

Unfortunately, I only remembered the camera towards the end of today’s sweet making. Sorry!

Anyway, what I was trying to do was recreate the York Peppermint Pattie, something that kept me going on many a TA office hours morning at UNC. Turns out they're fairly simple to make: you pour half a can of condensed milk into a stand mixer, add some peppermint extract and then beat in enough icing sugar to turn the mixture into a dough. And enough to cover the kitchen in a fine dust. Ahem.

The dough is then rolled out onto a cookie sheet (well, okay, I used a silicon mat instead) and placed into the freezer for about ten-fifteen minutes. While it's freezing, why not melt some dark chocolate? Doesn't have to be too fancy; I used 60% cocoa baking chocolate. Anyway, after the dough has been in the freezer for a while, pull it out (it should be quite stiff). Take a brush and paint a layer of chocolate onto the dough.

Peppermint Patties: I

Put it back into the freezer for another fifteen minutes or so, then flip it over and paint the other side. Back in the freezer again, and then cut out the patties!

Cutting the patties

While I was making the first batch, I thought that I should probably do something with the rest of the condensed milk. I still had a huge amount of icing sugar left, so I could make another batch fairly easily, but I had the idea of replacing the peppermint with strawberry flavouring. So strawberry patties were made too!

Mmmmm, Patty!

currently playing: Lovage – Strangers On A Train

Oddly, I Feel Quite Proud

My quest for the sales figures of Robocop on the Spectrum seemingly has no end in sight. But I can tell you that Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles sold 420,000 copies on the Spectrum in one month in 1990. Yay research!

It’s a weird sensation to be wiped from a discussion. You would have thought that after being on the Internet for eleven years, it would have happened to me sooner. In the end, it was the Spectrum that brought me down; sins of the past and all that. Of course, with his edits, it now reads like Bruce Everiss is arguing at thin air for a lot of the time, but he’s done so well at looking silly this week; he might as well finish as he started.

But hey, it’s not like somebody made a copy, is it?

(For all the praise it gets, I never really liked Arcadia either. I do remember getting a collection of Imagine games like Pedro, Cosmic Cruiser and The Alchemist, but I didn’t understand why those Imagine games were awful, yet the current ones like Target: Renegade were rather splendid. It wasn’t until a few years later that I learnt the full story of Imagine.)

UPDATE: Intuition Told Me Part Two: A couple more links will probably follow after reconstruction is completed on the second article: Or How Ultimate Stopped Worrying And Made A Fortune.

currently playing: Ultrasound – Floodlit World

This Weekend:


currently playing: Los Campesinos! – … And We Exhale And Roll Our Eyes In Unison

In West Philadelphia, Born & Raised

Preliminary exits are 52%-48% Clinton-Obama. With the usual proviso that exit polls have been pretty much junk this primary season…

(although really, what’s the point? If Clinton gets a 10-15% win, she’ll claim momentum. If she wins from 5-10%, she’ll do the same. If it’s very close, then things might get a little tricky. But he can’t win here.)

(having said that, with polls now closed, even MyDD is feeling pessimistic about the chances of a big Hillary win..)


See you tomorrow for THE VOTE THAT MAY END IT ALL.

(but probably won’t)

currently playing: Black Kids – Hit the Heartbreaks

The Greatest British Film Never Made


currently playing: Los Campesinos! – Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks

Imagine...The Name of The Game

Once upon a time there was a software company called Imagine. It existed in the heady days of the early 1980s, where hundreds of software companies sprang up to try and make money from these new-fangled ZX Spectrum things. Some were pretty good at it. Others…well not so much.

Imagine’s first game, Arcadia was well-received at the time of its release in 1982, becoming a big Christmas hit. The company was propelled into the press as an icon of Thatcher’s new Britain, making a fortune in new hi-tech worlds, and in Liverpool, of all places, to boot.

They released more games during 1983, of somewhat varying quality, but the company continued to grow at an impressive rate, moving into bigger and more expensive office spaces (twice!), showing off their wealth with an impressive array of sports cars (which were apparently on hire purchase rather than bought). They made a huge deal with magazine publisher Marshall Cavendish, rumoured to be worth £11m, to produce games to go with a new magazine series the publisher was planning. Imagine were the country’s premier games company; practically unstoppable.

They announced that they had exhausted the limits of the Spectrum; their next games would be dubbed ‘Megagames’. These would come with a hardware attachment that would boost the abilities of the computer and give rise to a ‘whole new world of gaming’. Oh, and they’d cost £40 instead of the average price of £7 for Spectrum games. They also agreed to have the BBC produce a documentary to showcase them to the British public at large.

You know how this story is going to end. At the end of 1983, Imagine decided to book the entire capacity of one of the major tape distributors in the UK, preventing other companies from getting their tapes made in time for the Christmas market. This would have worked well, if the games sold. Unfortunately, Christmas 1983 was a rather bad year, and Imagine were left renting a huge warehouse full of unwanted tapes. Oh, and they hadn’t finished paying the duplicators yet, either.

As 1984 rolled on, things just got worse. The megagames were dogged with delays, and the cost of producing the hardware add-on were twice as much as Imagine’s profit from 19823. One of the games only existed on paper. Still, Imagine went on as if everything was fine, placing advertisements for these games, telling the duplicator firms that they’d be ready soon.

They weren’t. The BBC team filming for Commercial Breaks were present as Imagine began collapsing all around them. Magazines filed suit to get money for unpaid advertising space, the duplicators came for their money, Marshall Cavendish asked for theirs back after unsatisfactory work on their games…and the directors fled the scene, squirrelling away some of the company’s assets in a legally-shady manner. The liquidators came in soon after, leaving PR director Bruce Everiss standing in an empty room talking to a BBC camera wondering where it all went wrong (and in Crash explicitly blaming the directors of the company).

The best part is that Manchester boys Ocean picked over the corpse of the company, taking the name and even redeeming it with games like HyperSports and Target: Renegade.

Fast-forward to 2008, and Bruce Everiss has a blog. A couple of weeks ago, he indulged in a little historical revisionism, blaming Imagine’s woes on the scourge of piracy. There it sat, unnoticed, until somebody pointed it out to Stuart Campbell.

Stuart Campbell is, to use a heavily-abused cliché, the videogame journalist equivalent of Hunter S. Thompson: funny, passionate, and full of seething contempt for a vast swathe of the industry. Like Thompson’s brush with politics, Campbell also worked in game development himself for a short period, being responsible for most of Cannon Fodder 2 when he was working at Sensible Software.

The blog entry suddenly got quite an audience, and poor Bruce never knew what hit him, although he remained steadfast in his views, actual evidence be damned. Read it and be amused. And if anybody does know the sales figures for the Spectrum version of Robocop, I would really like to know how much it sold.

YouTube version of Commercial Breaks

Crash 7 news reporting the collapse of the company.

Crash 12 Investigation of the bankruptcy.

currently playing: Los Campesinos! – Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks


The fact that in a year’s time, I’m going to fall off the end of that line scares me a little.


currently playing: J. Xaverre – Saturday