Saturday ’80s Photo: Future/Past Vinyl Adventures

I don’t remember Mum and Dad ever buying singles. When I was a kid, singles were what *I* bought (generally on cassette because it was a quid cheaper than CDs, and also because when I first started buying them we didn’t actually have a CD player in the house). What Mum and Dad did have, as far as I knew, was:

  • A gramophone with accompanying early-mid 20th century record collection. I used to peruse this and found the names of the records fascinating, but the music itself was of little interest to me because (a) my interest in the 20th century only really starts circa 1963* and (b) it was mostly old Scottish tunes, which Dad always put on the gramophone for the kids to dance to whenever I had a birthday party. Mum and Dad eventually sold the gramophone and accompanying collection, enabling them to put a bigger TV in the space.
  • A collection of vinyl LPs dating from the early ’60s to the late ’80s. Half of it was/is Scottish folk, which is nice enough but not a particular musical passion of mine, so it was the pop/rock albums on the other side of the cupboard that I always dug out as a kid (and learnt how to use a record player as a result – something a lot of people these days have only picked up during adult retrohood!) My brother Malcolm and I divvied up a large part of this collection on Christmas Day 2019, as Mum and Dad are strictly CD/Spotify users now. Apparently it’s only really the younger generations that have recently returned to vinyl and cassettes.**
  • A whole bunch of cassettes for car trips circa 1988-2000, 80% of which were taped copies of stuff we had on vinyl or CD.
  • CD albums dating from about 1994, when the family finally got our first CD player. In the 21st century these have replaced the cassettes for car trip purposes. Mum and Dad are still folkies but their preferred folk is more ‘niche’ nowadays and so they still buy CDs as a way to support smaller bands.

During the Christmas 2019 divvying up of vinyl, I was surprised when Dad produced a fairly substantial pile of 7-inch singles that I had never seen before, some of them dating back to the late ’50s. I didn’t expect there to be any ’80s goodies in there, due to my aforementioned memory of Mum and Dad never buying singles – I assumed the 7-inch collection must all have been from their teenage years – but I was wrong!

'80s 7-inch singles

‘Total Eclipse…’ and ‘Say Say Say’ are both 1983 classics, but ‘I Know Him So Well’ was released as a single in December 1984 – the month before I was born. It appeared to be the most recent 7-inch in Mum and Dad’s collection when I went through it – so maybe it was parenthood that put an end to their single-buying!

Anyway, these tiny slices of the ’80s belong to me now, and I really need to fire up my own record player and give them a spin someday. Much more special than burying them in my ’80s Spotify playlist!

*Nothing to do with Chatterley, the Beatles, sex or anything else that Larkin wrote about. 1963 saw the first episode of Doctor Who, and so that’s when the 20th century became properly interesting as far as I’m concerned.

**Pre-pandemic in the late ’10s I used to love going into branches of HMV, heading up to the music floor, and seeing that it was all vinyl and cassette tapes once again – not a CD in sight!

One Last Thing…

I released my newest text adventure game last night (and submitted it to the Adventuron game jam, making it four Adventuron jams in a row for which I have managed to cobble together a game!). I’ve put a lot of work into this one over the last month, so I’m really pleased that it’s all finished and out there in the world at last.

One Last Thing...
Adventuron version.

The main reason that this game required quite a bit of extra work was that I accepted the optional jam challenge of porting the Adventuron game to Spectrum +3 and Spectrum Next using DAAD Ready (I talked about this process at length in the video I linked to in my Barry Basic post the other day). The DAAD conversion process works really well, but there are a few things that come up slightly differently in the Spectrum port and so they needed to be tweaked and refined to make sure that they worked in the same way across the versions. There’s still a bit of improvement that could be made to the ported versions, but I’m happy enough with them for now.

One Last Thing...
Spectrum Next version.

I also made two sets of graphics – one for the Adventuron and Spectrum Next versions, and one Spectrum-compatible set for the Spectrum +3 version. The Spectrum-compatible graphics were a lot of fun to make, but I’m going to need a lot more practice in that style before I do another +3 port! The Adventuron/Next graphics, meanwhile, are probably my favourites that I’ve made yet – I used the hept32 palette suggested in the jam rules, rather than just picking random colours like I usually do, and I think it’s made everything look a lot nicer and more pulled-together.

One Last Thing...
Spectrum +3 version.

For the actual game and story, I tried to keep everything fairly short and simple, as I knew there wouldn’t be much memory space when porting to Spectrum +3 (as it happened, I did have to sacrifice one graphical change in a location on the +3 version because the original amount of graphics was too much for the conversion!). I decided on my setting (a single five-room building) for this reason, but I ended up making a short prequel* to the game I originally planned out, as the first game plan was getting a bit too big.**

* It’s also a sequel to my first game from last year, The Cave of Hoarding. It’s complicated.
** This always happens. The only time I actually made the game that I originally planned (Hallowe’en: Night of the Misty Manor), it ended up being 10,000 lines of code and required a lot of all-nighters in the week leading up to the jam deadline. At least it means I’ve got a lot of semi-finished games that I can work on in my own time!

After making a fairly contained game (albeit with a lot of interesting complications), I am quite keen to do a project with a big, sprawling map again. However, I am going to take a few days (at least) off from game creation – apart from anything else, I want to play all the other jam entries now!

Experimenting

Back to my mile route this morning…

…and then straight back into my game for more polishing off. Today was all about experimenting with external sound effects!… which didn’t work, and so I recreated them with the beeps that come as part of Adventuron instead. The beeps probably sound better and more consistent than the effects I made with my wide-ranging elderly instrument collection and limited musical skill, but hopefully I’ll be able to work out how to incorporate my own sound one of these days!

I also had Geth playtest the game this evening. This process always throws up a few issues that I need to work on, so that will be the first job for tomorrow.

Hopefully – fingers crossed! – when I update again tomorrow, the game will be all but finished. Jam deadline is Saturday afternoon!

1990s keyboard
One of my ultimately-unsuccessful sound effects was recorded on my clunky old Concertmate keyboard from 1994. I still love all the terrible voice settings you can use for the keyboard!

Today’s earworm playlist:

FM-84 – ‘Bend And Break’
Zara Larsson – ‘Lush Life’

Pulling everything together

I went out for my four-mile midweek run this morning…

…and it was a bit of a struggle to force myself out of the door! I need to do nine miles on Sunday, and I’m already slightly dreading it… it’s just one of those weeks where I’m lacking a bit of running motivation. One day at a time, like everything else.

My game is really getting into the final stages now. I got the second set of graphics implemented today (they were a lot more straightforward than the first set!) and have started to sort out the final non-8-bit touches for the Adventuron version of the game, as well as the eventual presentation aspects such as the Itch page design. Hoping to run it past my first playtester (i.e. Geth) tomorrow evening!

The laptop stack did not pull its weight as planned today – laptop number one turned out to be about six Linux versions out of date and needs a complete reinstall, while laptop number two needs a day or so to recharge its battery. Laptop number three is tiny and struggles to do anything complicated, so I don’t think it could manage more than a small test game in an Adventuron editor (if that), and laptop number four is still on Windows 7, so I wouldn’t want to connect it to the web (it’s another one that needs overhauling with Linux). Hopefully number two will be ready to go tomorrow! I need to remember to plug them all in for a recharge every so often…

Just a short run again tomorrow, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a productive game creation day 🙂

Pixel calendar
Something different today – this graphic is from a mini side project that I’ll hopefully be able to update you about tomorrow.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Chaos Shrine’
Spandau Ballet – ‘Gold’
Regard – ‘Ride It’

Testing, testing

Another short run today…

…and then I got back into my game. I finished the graphics this morning, and after a bit of tweaking I’ve managed to get the first set all implemented and working on the Spectrum +3 emulator. Tomorrow I’ll do the same for the Spectrum Next and Adventuron versions and start putting the finishing touches on everything, and hopefully there’ll still be a bit of time to run it past a couple of playtesters before the jam deadline!

I’ve had a couple of hours free every evening for the last few days to play videogames as well, which has been nice. I’m currently working my way through realMyst: Masterpiece Edition on the Switch (so cool to be able to explore the world properly as opposed to the static images from the 1993 version that I grew up with!) and Final Fantasy 1 on the PSP (I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m planning to play through the mainline Final Fantasy games in order… I’m only allowing myself an online map to help with the first game as apparently the original version came with a paper map!).

More making and playing games tomorrow, I hope!

Laptop stack
It’s time for the LAPTOP STACK. You can only run one Adventuron tab per browser, and I’ve got to a point where I need to work on multiple versions of a game at once. As such, the backup laptops will be pulling their weight tomorrow!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Harry Nilsson – ‘One’
Catatonia – ‘Road Rage’
Michael Jackson – ‘They Don’t Care About Us’
Manami Kiyota – ‘Frontier Village’

A slightly mixed-up Wednesday

I didn’t get out for a run until nearly mid-afternoon today…

…as I wanted to get some work finished first. By the time I went out, it was actually really warm and sunny, and I regretted wearing leggings instead of shorts! The sun has disappeared again now though. Hopefully it’ll make a reappearance before too long.

Looking forward to settling down with my game coding again tonight.

Prom night, 2002
That awkward moment when you realise that prom night was eighteen years ago this month. Still glad I went for a flamenco dress rather than something that would date in pictures. The same can’t be said for the Olympus camera (already eight years old at that point) and Nokia 3310 that you can see in my hands!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Heaven 17 – ‘Let Me Go’
Chas & Dave and The Matchroom Mob – ‘Snooker Loopy’*
GRL – ‘Ugly Heart’

*RIP Willie Thorne, you absolute legend 😢

Still not firing on all cylinders

Just another mile today…

…as I woke up with a slightly sore shoulder (I had planned to do closer to two miles today but decided to keep it short and gentle again).

I’m still not sleeping well, and I don’t feel productive at all this week – I’m a bit slow to get going with everything. Still, I’m managing to get a bit of work on my current writing project done every day, which is great.

Despite the uncertainty about absolutely everything at the moment, I am 100% certain that two things will be the case by the end of 2020:

  1. I will have made a significant dent in my videogame backlog. There’s no way I’ll have cleared it completely, but there will at least be light at the end of the tunnel…
  2. I will own enough leggings to last me for the rest of my life, and yet I will still want more. So many shiny patterns!

Everyone needs a hobby, or twenty in my case. Especially at the moment.

Videogaming tonight, running in the morning, writing during the day, rinse and repeat.

Computers, 1980
I’m running out of pictures that I can take during lockdown, as my world is obviously a bit samey right now. As such, I’ve been going through the family archives for old computer pictures. I love this one from 1980.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Billy Idol – ‘Rebel Yell’
Revo – ‘Ship Upon The Open Skies’
Thought Beings – ‘Shakedown’

Slowly improving the habitat

A recovery mile this morning…

…and then Mum and Dad popped in again so that we could finish off the last few jobs in the bathrooms. Towel rings now installed! Dad has also taken our old laptops home with him for further Linux experimentation.

I’ve spent the afternoon getting on with admin (and daydreaming about further home improvements). Back to work tomorrow.

Towel ring
The sheer beige intensity of my bathroom photos has me itching to repaint the downstairs one in some really bright, funky colour. Like purple, or possibly tropical mango. I might see what’s on offer in the paint section next time I’m at a hardware shop.

Today’s earworm playlist:

The Midnight – ‘Crystalline’
Justin Timberlake – ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’

Computer management

After my Tuesday recovery mile…

…Mum and Dad arrived (it’s Dad’s birthday today). Dad and I then spent the afternoon experimenting with a couple of old laptops that Geth and I want to put Linux on, as Windows 7 is slow and less supported these days. It looks like we’ll be able to get that finished tomorrow hopefully!

We then went out to the Redhouse in Newcastle for Dad’s birthday meal out. I hadn’t been there for more than three years, since before I started Slimming World, because I have no idea how many syns are in one of their pies! Just have to estimate it this week… The pies are amazing though.

More house-sorting to do (and nice food to eat) tomorrow.

Pies at the Redhouse
Pie-eating at the Redhouse! Photo from Dad.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Bill Conti – ‘Gonna Fly Now’
Justin Timberlake – ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’
The Midnight – ‘Collateral’

Back in the box

A busy day today. I went for my short run first thing this morning, then spent a few hours doing some day job work for a client. After that, the rest of the afternoon was taken up with putting away all the Christmas decorations. The house always looks a bit bare when they’re down, but it is giving me some impetus to get a few more pictures up on the walls soon.

Geth and I have sorted out our diaries for 2020 this evening (they’re ridiculously full already, which always seems to happen at the start of the year), and I’m about to have a go on RingFit Adventure, which is an exercise game for the Nintendo Switch.

A slightly quieter day tomorrow I hope!

Retro media players
Not an OOTD: it’s not out the box yet, but my new turntable (a Christmas present from Geth) fits its allotted space very well! Some of the albums are newly bought in the last year, while others are from Mum and Dad’s collection, which I divvied up with Malcolm on Christmas morning. It’s also a cassette player, but I won’t be getting rid of my 1993 Saisho machine (top of picture) – I’m too attached to it.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Koichi Sugiyama – ‘Unflinchable Courage’
Starship – ‘We Built This City’
Bill Conti – ‘Gonna Fly Now’