Buster Bunny

By Dave E

Originally published in EUG #15

This is going to be a reasonably long letter as there are a lot of things I would like to put to EUG in it. I have owned an Elk for eight years and have accumulated a large amount of software. My setup is very simple though: an Acorn Electron and a Plus 1.

In addition, I own an Amiga 500 (with Video/Audio digitiser) and a BBC Master. I tend to find that if I produce art on the Amiga art packages and then copy it to the BBC Master that the results are fantastic. I will shortly submit a full-blown professional game Sunday: a graphic adventure with over 24 fully animated screens, over 400 different responses and a Command Mode. The use of Mode 4 graphics on a grid in the centre of the screen allows the rest of the screen to be used for text 'talk', descriptions and responses similar in many ways to The Secret Of Monkey Island on the Amiga. Using a BBC Master also allows four-channel sound so it is possible to incorporate music and sound effects to give the game a large sense of realism.

Although when completely finished, I will chop massive chunks out of it to create the Electron version, there will probably be a long delay as I have no disk drive expansion for my Elk (and I'm not paying £150 to get one from Pres!). At the moment I think I will be working from tape and this will cause a lot of problems. Does anyone have any advice?

From what I've heard, a lot of Elk games cannot be transferred to disk from tape due to complications with memory. As far as I can see, Superior are the only ones who bother to think about how long us tape owners spend loading a game (i.e. Combat Lynx and Exile take around ten minutes!) and copyright laws also forbit us to copy tapes onto disks. What I want to know is what about all those thousands of firms who produced only one or two games for the Elk then ceased trading? These firms who now can not make any profit surely don't mind us making copies of their games for our enjoyment.

I have around 500 different games and only three of them are pirated. These are Orbital (Impact), Five Stones Of Anadon (Softek) and Space Shuttle (Microdeal) and I cannot find the originals anywhere! I don't know how the law works but I gather copyrights do run out. Maybe soon it will be possible to start redistributing such games without being in breach of copyright law on tape format! It would seem a good way - perhaps the only way - to keep up support for the Elk. If anyone there knows more than I do, let's hear from you.

I have a utility called Turbocon which not only copies almost every game but also changes the signal sent to the backup tape in such a way that the copied version loads in in two thirds of the time! But there are some exceptions: Birdstrike, Elite, The Hacker, Video Classics, Stairway To Hell, Southern Belle, Chip Buster and Star Drifter namely. Does anyone know how the altered loading systems shown on these games are achieved?

Can we begin a list of all the software ever produced for the Elk? My list is probably a good start but if everyone sends in theirs, we could probably create a much more comprehensive one. It could even appear in a future EUG in a format such as:

Game 		  Software House C/O Inst. Original Comp.    Enquire

LEMMING SYNDROME  SuperSellers   O   Yes   Dynabyte Col        A
LICENCE TO KILL    Alternative   O   Yes        --             B

N.B. C/O denotes Copy/Original; Inst. whether the person has the inlay and instructions and Enquire a cross-reference to addresses:

A) Dave Edwards, 42 Canterbury Road, REDCAR TS10 3QF
B) Mr X, X Road, X Town, X County, XXX XXX

We could then set up trades of software between Electron users. May sound like a big idea but would certainly keep life in the old machine running...

I have submitted a graphic of Buster Bunny that I created a long time ago plus some Public Domain software. Hopefully, sometime in the future I may also have a hand in improving EUG's menu systems.

One last thing. I recently bought a Cumana Disk Interface from a Car Boot Sale. It is a large cartridge that fits into one of the Plus 1 ROM cartridge holders and is supposed to work with a BBC disk drive (with PSU). It doesn't. Does anyone have any idea why? [See Shelia's letter in this section - Gus] The sooner I can get it to go, the sooner I can start doing something beneficial...

Dave E

On the question of copying software from companies no longer trading:

I remember the day John Lennon died. I was at college at the time in Edinburgh. There were some people who played music and who were hoping for the big break. One suggested that, now Lennon was dead, his copyright on his songs would be free for anyone to use. Several of us checked and discovered this was not so. All copyright remains in force for the life of the writer and for, I think, 50 years after their death. So songs he wrote with Macca will remain copyrighted for 50 years after Macca's death. The same rules apply to software.

It is a shame since software writers probably have little use for stuff they wrote but which is no longer published. But there it is. The copyright laws on computer software are a little more complicated than music though and, if I can even talk to a lawyer who will give me the info without charging the earth, I will pass it on.

Think about this:

I have seen this in a magazine. Is it copyright?

Gus Donnachaidh, EUG #15