Quit While Ahead

By John Crane

Originally published in EUG #61

Thanks for your reasoned and honest response to my letter in EUG #60. I think on balance that I probably do agree with you in the main but as for some aspects of 'standardisation' and 'editorial rights', I guess I'll just have to agree to disagree.

I must admit I expected quite a bit of protest when you announced EUG's imminent closure but from what I've seen it is now probably inevitable. I have been a fairly regular contributor to EUG over the years and much that I have written has been designed to provoke response. Like with your DON'T BE DEAD feature though, there has been very little. People are obviously not bothered, or at least not bothered enough. Thus I'd say I'm with you with the idea "Quit while you're ahead rather than dwindle away". I personally think that whatever response (or otherwise) turns up in time for EUG #61 will decide EUG's fate.

If I don't think of anything worthy of inclusion before the probable demise next issue then I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank you for keeping EUG alive, for bringing it to a successful conclusion and not letting it deteriorate.

John Crane
Walton, Chesterfield

All the apathy indicates it is indeed the case that people can no longer be bothered with EUG. Moreover, "behind the scenes" of all the appeals, requests and cloaked begging that has been going on in the pages of EUG, there has also been a lot going on to save it, to no avail. Kevin Etheridge was bothered enough to ballot all the subscribers of the BBC Mailing List and fight EUG's corner and Dave M put up links to the EUG website all over Stairway To Hell. Both warned EUG was in real danger and encouraged anyone with even a passing interest in the BBC machines to subscribe, even if just to keep it alive a bit longer.

Unfortunately everything that could have been done to save EUG has now been done. The indication which is truly disheartening, however, is that few regular contributors (and even ex-Editors!) feel now that EUG is even worthy of feedback or a final submission.

Since the early EUG issues were made available free on 8BS, their download statistics make for interesting reading. Some discs have been downloaded by fifty or so individual people, doubtless some of them readers who read of their compilation in the present EUG issues. With a booming number of professional and PD titles alike now put on the scene by Elk enthusiasts, perhaps the prevailing attitude regarding new software and utilities is just to "wait for it to appear" on the internet, whereby it can be had for free. If the enthusiasts haven't gotten hold of it to put it on the internet, assumedly, it isn't worth seeing.

I have personally been on the receiving end of e-mails where BBC/Elk 'fans' have, completely unwittingly, fuelled my scepticism for the projects EUG has been in charge of during my time as editor. Recently, a post on "http:/google.groups.com" asked for "Help with Larsoft's Hex", a very difficult adventure conspicous by the lack of a solution in either cyberspace or an old Acorn periodical. With the help of the index of adventure games Electron User produced 'hints and tips' for, a trawl through the appropriate columns revealed the answer to the "poster's" problem. As the poster had stated that he was attempting Hex after having completed Geoff Larsen's The Nine Dancers, I passed on the info with my own request that he mail me that solution; The Nine Dancers, up to this point, similarly also appearing never to have been solved.

His response: "I get very little time for this sort of thing so don't hold your breath."

What grates about such a 'take and take' response is that the Acorn world was once reknown for being a friendly 'give and take' world, where users were happy to share such ideas. Assuming the poster had in fact completed The Nine Dancers, he would of necessity have had to write down the moves required to do so. How much "time" would taking a copy of that information have actually taken? Two seconds? And a few minutes to write my address on an envelope? With that, the solution would have been available to all, including myself.

The hardcore of contributors to EUG, like yourself, remain supportive of all the efforts anyone makes, even if they are only simple requests for help. But it seems that in the period from EUG #46 to #54 the majority of the 80+ readers EUG took on were of a more capitalist mind. And sadly 'requests for help' such as this show which mind is now prevalent in what remains of the Acorn-on-PC world.

The fact EUG cannot now attract any new members by any means either indicates that (a) this is the case, or (b) EUG isn't worth having. The fact EUG cannot get its remaining readership to pass comment shows the same. Yet I wonder whether, some time in the future, people will read all the appeals littering EUG and wish they had been around to keep it going with a few of their own questions. Even as I write this, there is no newsgroup or website with a pure emphasis on new Electron reviews, games, articles, solutions and utilities. In that sense, the closure really is the end of an era and, while it may be more apt to "quit while ahead rather than dwindle away", it is apparent to me that one of the 'cosier' places left in the 8bit world has succumbed to the very apathy it tried so hard to counter.

Dave E, EUG #61