THE NIGHT 6FT BLACK-EYED ELF MAN PAID ME A PERSONAL VISIT
Newsdesk contains a wealth of information on their hobbies (walking and drinking feature prominently), favourite music, and also a short guide to some towns and villages in West Yorkshire including the best pubs. The menu driven piece of software also features a profile of each member, which confirms what I remember about Jason being tall and also about him being the driving force behind Elven.
He took care of the programming and design, while Julie Nicholls seems to have handled the admin and support side. Judith Woods came up with the different scenarios and puzzles featured in the games, while Brent Ash produced the graphics. As to the other people associated with Elven games on WoS, well, who knows? Perhaps Fergus Nicholls and Tina Rothrock were real people or perhaps they were just pseudonyms for the four core members.
One of the most interesting parts of Newsdesk is the background on how Elven got started; Jason began writing adventures as a hobby and then, probably encouraged by those who played them, decided to take it a bit more seriously and tried to make some money from his endeavours. It was at this point he enlisted the help of friends and promptly started tinkering with and improving his games.
From browsing Newsdesk, it appears that Conman the Barbarian was a brand new project and Elven was hoping to find a willing publisher for the game. But despite the YS exposure, and aside from the possible daliance with Northern Underground mentioned previously, this never happened.
It also appears that Jason's
final contribution to the Spectrum adventure scene was The Queen of the Mirror,
which has yet to be found and preserved for the WoS archive. This suggests
not many copies were ever distributed or sold and I would speculate that even
as it was being completed, the writing was on the wall for Elven Adventurers.
I can't help feeling that if he had written games like Dreammare or The Haunting three or four years earlier, Jason would have landed himself some kind of deal with a mainstream label or certainly one of the larger independent adventure publishers. As it was, he had to rely on word of mouth and the odd plug in fanzines and Mike Gerrard's adventure section to generate sales, and in the end it probably seemed like a lot of hard work for hardly any reward.
Still, I'm bloody glad he did go to all that trouble; firstly because his games are great legacy of a once exciting and healthy Spectrum adventure scene, and secondly because it's given me the basis of an article that's hopefully kept you entertained for the last few minutes.
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The software house was based in a small village in Bradford called Idle. Jason Nicholls lived just a stones throw from the the famous Idle Working Men's Club, which has affiliate members all over the world. Click here to read more.
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