For the longest time, I’ve kept a specific CD-R hanging around. Somehow it’s survived all the different house moves I’ve gone through since leaving home and is still intact. I’m more impressed that I haven’t lost it or accidentally thrown it out than by the fact it still works, but I guess that’s pretty cool, too.
The raggedy inlay lists a few bits and pieces on the front, but gives relatively little indication to its contents. “PETE’S STUFF” it proudly announces in green felt-tip pen. “\PIERRE\ (GENERAL), \KNP\ (KLIK GAMES), \FFCOLLECTION\ (FINAL FANT.)” it elaborates, also in green felt-tip pen. The last entry is simply a collection of emulators and ROM files for all the Final Fantasy games up until VI, including a translated Japanese ROM for the NES original version of III. But it’s the other two that are more interesting.
The “Pierre” folder is from my first PC, which was a mighty Pentium 133 that could run Doom and Quake like nobody’s business. It had both a DVD-ROM drive and a CD rewriter, and I also eventually installed a Sound Blaster Audigy into it, which took up another drive bay with a ridiculous front-panel audio interface that looked pretty cool. Said folder contained a wide variety of almost-organised bits and pieces, consisting almost entirely of MIDI files downloaded from CompuServe and the Internet at large — mostly music from Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger, with a brief break into Wild Arms, Xenogears and Zelda territory — as well as saved walkthroughs from an early incarnation of GameFAQs. This was the age of dial-up networking, you see, and thus it wasn’t possible to simply “quickly” hop onto GameFAQs to check a walkthrough; it was much more efficient to save it. (If you’re wondering, my saved guides included Alundra, Bust-a-Groove, Rival Schools, Wild Arms and Xenogears.)
Also in this folder is an early form of a tabletop roleplaying game system called “The Returners,” based on Final Fantasy, along with original text files for some of my earliest pieces of freelance writing work — a two-part guide to Final Fantasy VII for PC Zone, a 3,000 word Discworld II guide, a Lands of Lore II guide that was an absolute nightmare to put together, and a walkthrough to Turok 2 using the Official Nintendo Magazine’s curious internal system of markup to include special characters and other layout bits and pieces.
Pleasingly, one thing that I have found among all this crap is a folder containing a bunch of half-finished creative writing works from a long time ago. There’s a sci-fi epic I started working on that was loosely based on Sierra’s excellent spacefaring strategy game Alien Legacy (kudos if you remember that, it was awesome) along with a piece I wrote for my A-Level English Language coursework. I liked it so much when I wrote it that I extended it somewhat. It’s also probably my earliest example of writing creative prose in “stream of consciousness” style — we’d not long covered Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea in English Lit class, and the curiously disjointed method of writing had proven to be quite appealing to me, so I experimented with it. It paid off with a good mark, as I recall, though I’m not sure it holds up quite so well to further inspection some fifteen years later. Still, it’s nice to have it.
(Oh, also, there’s a subfolder in the “Pierre” folder just labelled “ANNA KOURNIKOVA IS FIT”, which I think is fairly self-explanatory.)
The “KNP” folder is an interesting one, as it contains a selection of half-finished (yes, I have a habit of half-finishing things) games made with Clickteam’s excellent software Klik and Play, later superseded by The Games Factory and Multimedia Fusion. This folder contains the earliest ever incarnation of the story “Dreamwalker”, which I still fully intend to get out of my head and into some form of creative medium before I die. The original version of Dreamwalker was more an experiment to see if it was possible to make a Zelda-style action-adventure using the rather limited Klik and Play tools, and indeed it was, with a bit of creativity. Once I’d started making it, though, I found myself getting quite attached to the characters involved, even if I’d borrowed the basic concept (if not the setting and characters) from Alundra on PS1, which I’d played around the same time. I also actually composed some music for Dreamwalker, which I still have the MIDI files for, and which are in dire need of mixing properly. Perhaps that can be a project sometime — the tunes themselves are actually pretty solid, in my humble opinion.
The KNP folder also includes the original version of Pie Eater’s Destiny, one of the only four complete video games that I have ever made. (The other three are London Taxi Chase, London Taxi Chase II and… a remake of Pie Eater’s Destiny) Pie Eater’s Destiny holds a fond place in my heart because it was a collaborative project between me and my two best buds in the late stages of school, and it’s a running joke among us that one day we’ll make a sequel. We’ve started several times, but somehow, well over ten years later, we’re yet to get anywhere. Pleasingly, the data files for Pie Eater’s Destiny also include the original .WAV file recordings of us doing voice acting for the game, including the outtakes which we saved. There are also .WAV files of us experimenting with pitch shifting and other special effects, including several alarmingly-convincing “Jabba the Hutt doing things he was never supposed to be depicted doing” files. JABBAWNK.WAV, indeed.
Anyway, I was happy to rediscover some of the useless crap on this disc when I opened it up on a whim today. It’s missing a few things that I hoped I’d find on there, but I’m glad I found the other stuff. Perhaps when I can be bothered I might share some of it here. Those voice acting outtakes are crying out to be edited into some sort of YouTube clip.