JagFest UK 2003 continued...


Early evening
19:00 was the official closing time for day visitors but the action showed no signs of slowing down as we approached dinner. In the Dutch room, the Dutch were still playing Worms like crazy. In the bar room, Thomas was showing a port of Doom on his Milan, then started processing screen-shots of it in Smurf. Matthew Preston ran the ST version of Xenon, the Bitmap Brothers' vertical scrolling shooter, what memories that brought back (anyone remember this on the UK Saturday morning kids' TV show, Get Fresh?). Matthew Bacon worked on the June issue of MyAtari, at this point still not on-line, due to a lack of things including a cover image. We experimented with various design ideas and also manipulated some of the photos I'd taken during the day. Bearing in mind we wanted a theme to tie in with the month's main feature, it was not easy to come up with something suitable. A stroke of inspiration came when I saw Nico Hofer walking around in his very eye-catching red Atari T-shirt, pure and devoid of any other details. I got him to stand outside as soon as he finished playing his game, then simply photographed his T-shirt. Perfect, this would be the cover feature, our two articles about the "new" Atari.

Surprisingly, in over 30 issues of MyAtari we had never done the obvious for a cover design, that is, one big Atari logo. Now you may ask why we didn't use a "flat" one as opposed to photographing. Simply, the T-shirt gave a subtle and interesting texture with mild distortions. Originating everything in the digital domain imparts a sterile quality, so we like to incorporate elements of the real world in our design.

[Photo: Stone and Tyrant]

[Photo: Dutch playing Worms]

[Photo: Tempest 2000 and Xenon]

[Photo: Thomas editing a screen-shot of Doom]

[Photo: Matthew working on MyAtari's June cover]

Finally, around 20:30, we holders of weekend passes stopped activity and all marched into town for dinner. Some guys had to go to a cash machine, so during the wait, we stood in the street discussing what to have for dinner. Only Nick Harlow and I wanted Indian, such a pity we couldn't show our European friends this great British tradition, and Thai was deemed too exotic and just as undesirably spicy(?). So we went back in the direction of the hotel, to the Dragon Inn Chinese restaurant for a buffet meal. Bemused diners peered out of the windows at this 30-strong mob of Atari freaks, as a waiter stood at the door telling Nick there were not enough seats available! It looked like this restaurant was going to lose our custom (Great! Let's go for Indian...) but we were advised to come back in 30 minutes, so we went down to the nearest pub for a drink before our meal.

At the restaurant, there was a birthday party next to the main Atari table, accounting for the lack of seating. During our extended stay (or are some people just slow eaters?), Jagman showed signs of his mettle to come yet, shovelling down a third plate of food and topping it off with ice cream! Well done to the beer drinkers with the good sense to accompany their meal with imported Tsingtao. It was also incredibly funny hearing Sacha Hofer tease Matthew Preston for drinking "fake" Budweiser! In fairness, the Czech version doesn't seem to be offered in mainstream restaurants, but it's the one I personally buy at the supermarket.

Sacha was sitting next to me and we discussed the state of the scene regarding magazines, particularly the impending closure of the German st-computer print magazine, and its implications. Some ideas were raised that hopefully will materialize into articles in MyAtari.

Going back to the hotel after dinner, I showed the group a shortcut to the rear instead of walking up the hill and around, I was surprised none of the others who'd come by car remembered this route! Within minutes, machines were up and running, blasting out intense electronic music. Walking around sipping sweet rum, I saw many people relaxing with conversation, some still played games, and I also saw the beginning of CiH's report (that's report, not real-time article, I stand corrected!) which I guess will appear in Alive! issue 7, that will definitely be worth the wait.

Thomas stayed chatting until well past 23:00, I was under the impression he wouldn't even be at dinner so it was good of him to hang around with the team. The late night atmosphere was most enjoyable and I wanted to stay up all night to catch up on some gaming and magazine work, take it to the extreme and be able to say I've done it (like I did at Unconventional 2001). However, I'd been burning for 19 hours already and these feats of endurance become more difficult with advancing age, I did the sensible thing and went to bed. How convenient to be in a hotel.

Easy like Sunday morning
I woke up before Matthew. Turned on the television and there was Transformers, the cartoon, though it was obviously a modern day series and not the one I watched in the '80s, as one of the characters was using a PDA!

CiH and Felice were already finishing off their breakfast along with some others when Matthew and I arrived. The weather was just as clear though not as hot as on Saturday, it was a beautiful calm Sunday indeed. Not to waste time on trivial things like breakfast, let's get straight to the action.

[Photo: Robert Demming]

[Photo: Robert Demming in the MyAtari corner]

Robert Demming came to the MyAtari stand with his Jaguar system and Alpine card to give a more in-depth explanation of his CD recording software. I was looking at this on the Saturday and thought it would be good to feature this as a JagFest highlight.

Falcon enthusiast Mark Branson appeared once more to man the CCC area, having gone home for Saturday night. He came from quite a long way, I don't understand why he didn't just bring a sleeping bag and kip on the floor or something! Derryck Croker and Peter West didn't attend on Sunday, so Mark brought his Falcon system to replace Peter's. I sat down with him and we talked about MyAtari, he showed me the home-brewed web page he made for browsing back issues - it was stripped of pictures to speed up page rendering, though there was little that could be done about the graphical content of the magazine itself, except for install a CT60 accelerator, which he will be doing! A Nature Super VIDEL graphics card is also on his ambitious shopping list. While demonstrating the magazine in CAB, he pointed out some quirks with the way some elements of the pages are displayed. I'm aware of these as I personally do the CAB testing every month (except for one month recently when it slipped, and it would be the one where a last-minute change by Matthew caused a horrendous display error in CAB!), some issues can be fixed, some can't. The good news is last month we fixed a small bug in our HTML tables, so now the navigation menu will look neat and tidy in CAB. It was silly because we knew about the symptom and found the fix, but didn't implement it in all applicable areas. There I was wondering for ages why our navigation menu didn't look totally right in CAB, thinking it was something extremely obscure when the answer was right under our noses.

[Photo: Mark Branson]

Mark spent considerable time telling me about his Falcon acceleration project, especially the trouble he went to in search of a suitable tower case to house the finished article. This man means business, also shown by the high quality peripherals he had on display. Members of CCC are contributing engineering skills and documenting this, it should make an excellent upgrade feature.

In the Dutch room, gaming tournaments continued. A networked BattleSphere session was in progress, as was the Barkley Shut Up & Jam tournament.

[Photo: Wooden Jaguar cartridge holders]

Black Ice White Noise.

[Photo: Networked BattleSphere]

BattleSphere network.

[Photo: Steve Moss]

Steve Moss with his PC joystick adapter.

[Photo: American Hero CD demo]

American Hero CD demo, with Stone's modified Sega Saturn light gun on top of the monitor.

[Photo: Stone]

Stone, having a great time.

Less people were present on Sunday, as expected. This didn't detract from the enjoyment of the event. We still had new visitors turning up, like Elliot Swanton, owner of MyAtari's mirror site. Elliot's another very local resident but was prevented from coming on the Saturday as well by one of his company's clients. I would later beat Elliot in the Tempest 2000 duel by cunning use of The Cube which he didn't know about... otherwise I'm sure he would have thrashed me!

Nico Hofer won the Barkley Shut Up & Jam tournament - his prize, a set of nice wooden Jaguar catridge racks emblazoned with the Jaguar logo and a certificate. After his prize presentation, those of us wishing to have lunch had to move quickly, as the Hofer brothers had to catch a flight back to Switzerland mid-afternoon.

[Photo: Gaztee presenting Nico Hofer his prize]

Off to the town centre we strolled once more. Ironically, in this beautiful English town full of individual character, we ended up in a Wetherspoon pub. In my mind that seemed like going to Italy and dining in a Pizza Hut, though it was actually not bad at all, the food was reasonably priced and we sat in the beer garden. CiH and Felice joined us later, I managed to forget I was supposed to wait for them near the end of the high street because they didn't know where we'd decide to go. I didn't quite expect my sandwich to be served with crisps when everyone else got proper chips, I should have paid more attention to the menu.

We talked and talked, as if we had all the time in the world, but the Hofer brothers didn't have that much time, and they left early to go home, hopefully taking great memories of their visit to the UK.

[Photo: Nick Harlow]

Everybody who said they were going to turn up and demo or show off various things, did, about 35 in all. Then on the Saturday we had 20 folks turn up on the spur. Now these were the people we wanted because they made a real effort to come even though they didn't have anything to show or demo. They wanted to see what was happening. Really impressed by this and they probably have ensured next year's show.

Nick Harlow, 16/32 Systems

I was amazed at the turnout. All this from one simple post on AtariAge! It was fantastic to put faces to all the names we see regularly on the 'net. It was good to see how much interest there still is in the Atari scene as a whole. The amount of interest was also good enough for us to agree to do it all again next year. So with new friends made I look forward to seeing them all again next year at a bigger, better and improved JagFest UK 2004.

Gaztee, JagFest UK organizer

Second from last of the major events was the prize draw, top prize being an Atari Jaguar Alpine interface board for developers. Fox-1 and TXG drew the winners. Stone wanted that Alpine badly and spent 30 in raffle tickets. It was won by Stephen Morton, the local chap, who isn't a Jaguar programmer and wasn't even there on Sunday! Another unclaimed prize was a brand new XE Game System lightgun, a very cool looking piece of hardware. Fox-1 got a prize as well, Robinson's Requiem for the Falcon. My purcahse of one single raffle ticket got me nothing!

[Photo: Nick Harlow holding a prize]

Winding up the day sooner than initially planned, the Tempest 2000 duel final was held around 16:00. The two players left standing were Jagman, already triumphant in the Worms tournament, and Xirius from France. A furiously close match was fought, certainly the best of the whole event, lasting the full five rounds. Each player gave as good as he took, though Jagman just edged it towards the end 3:2, making it a fantastic double victory for the local boy. He walked off with a Jaguar rotary controller from Tyrant, what a superb prize!

[Photo: Xirius and Jagman rear view]

[Photo: Tempest 2000 final high view]

[Photo: Two players concentrating]

[Photo: Screen-shot of Tempest 2000]

[Photo: Jagman with his prize]

That was JagFest UK 2003 in a nutshell, there was really a lot more going on than I've described here. For more information, check out our JagFest highlight articles this issue and also the links below.

Useful links


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MyAtari magazine - Feature #2, July 2003

Copyright 2003 MyAtari magazine