That Was The Year That Was: 2008

By Dave E

Originally published in EUG #69

So 2008 is gone and our web site has changed yet again. It previously had 'frames', which cause no end of problems when other sites try to link to them, and it also used to have Javascript-buttons which alternated between green and pink; these have now been replaced with plain text. Oh, and all of the catalogues of software now have a distinct look (and a lot more graphics!) to replace the distinction that had grown up between the professional releases and the other public domain releases. And the former 'PD World' section has been, rightly, split into companion discs and true public domain releases. We hope the new site has a much more 'mature' look.

Webmaster Dave E embarked upon a number of projects this year; the biggest one being the painstaking design of loading screens from the cover art of almost all of the professional releases, and the use of Image2BBC to convert them. The results, demoed in the last issue of EUG are now on display throughout the catalogues. In fact, we're not sure if the whole site has passed from being a hobbyist site now into a work of art in its own right. The limited colour loading screens are certainly unique in internet land, and loading such graphics on the original machines is mindboggling to behold. In addition, compilations such as Alligata's Bumper Bundle and Audiogenic's Fab Four Volume 1, after being created, were given further ambiance with stylish menu screens.

More games (too many to mention but most notably Time Trucker, By Fair Means Or Foul, The Lost Crystal and Baron) were put on disc and uploaded to the site, and more type-ins were recovered from hitherto forgotten magazines such as Computer Gamer and Games Computing.

Dave M put up a mirror of Chris Richardson's old 8BS site, thankfully having archived it just prior to its sudden disappearance in 2006. He also finished clearing a warehouse of rare 8-bit gems, set up Retro Gaming Posters and Retro Software, and is now actively involved in organising meetups and exhibitions of collectors' rare BBC and Electron equipment. In so doing, he managed to dig up unreleased gems for the BBC such as Cyroid-X and Repton The Lost Realms, which had previously only been rumoured to exist (for many years!). Scott Smith managed to find the Omniscient instructions, appealled for in EUG #68, making this rare game now complete and playable. The books archive was updated with Fontana's early paperback The Good Software Guide and Dave E brushed up on his Dutch and German by completing the collection of Acorn Electron User Guides with these extra versions.

The Impact Games Club magazines were scanned, and links added to the 'reviews' originally published within these - although these should of course be regarded with some caution as Impact could never claim to be truly independent. Acorn User reviews were also added, with quick links from the main catalogues. Pixelh8 created renditions of sound using all of his 8bit computer collection including the Acorn Electron and BBC and the forums were increasingly busy with ideas of new programs and adventures that could be created.

However, there was a sad milestone in that there was no program released in 2008 which defined that year of the Elk's life. In 2005, we had You're Alan Partridge; in 2006, To Hell In A Hamper; in 2007, Daniel Pugh's Music Demo World. 2008 was, I believe, the first full year which passed without a single game being created for the Acorn Electron. Nevertheless, there was something of a blast from the past with Simon Pilley's pictures from EUG #21 re-emerging as an Atari Eugenia Demo.

With the move to DVD, we face the future with a very different philosophy but with renewed determination now not just to have archived everything but for everything to be immaculately presented. The BBC PD discs are first in line for an overhaul, with Acorn User companion discs also requiring some work (and to actually be made available!) in the not too distant future. The piles of Acorn User magazines currently taking up far too much room in EUG HQ are also inching ever closer to an A3 scanner which Dave M delivered a few months ago. We have also let it be known that we are actively searching for copies of Personal Computer News which, like Home Computing Weekly before it, is suspected to hide numerous gems of Electron goodness!