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Matt Westcott @gasmanic
, 21 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
So now the cat is out of the bag - I was responsible for a couple of ZX Spectrum related easter eggs for Black Mirror's #Bandersnatch choose-your-own-adventure special...
Without getting too spoilery... a post-credits scene shows the main character listening to a tape marked "Bandersnatch Demo", consisting of screechy electronic noise. Tape close-up:
Naturally, this has caused no end of confusion to Americans and millenials who have no idea about the connection between cassettes full of screechy noise and 1980s computer games.
("Aha, you youngsters don't recognise that this is clearly a dialup modem tone!" they say with misplaced confidence to their slightly-younger cousins.)
Loading this into a Spectrum will reveal a QR code, complete with fake VHS glitches for the full Black Mirror ambience.
This QR code takes you to the hidden Tuckersoft website, where, amongst other things, you can download and play the actual Spectrum version of Nohzdyve, a game seen earlier in the show. ZX Spectrum Nohzdyve screenshot: a man plummets towards a washing line
The version seen on-screen is in fact a cunningly-crafted video mockup, right down to the authentic-looking colour clash - I was tasked with turning that 20 seconds or so of footage into the real game. Nohzdyve as seen on a retro CRT screen in Bandersnatch
It's more than a little bit weird to be getting paid work doing ZX Spectrum stuff in 2018, but it's been a real blast working on this, and keeping a secret for the last 4 months while the whole world is fighting over the smallest scrap of leaked info :-)
(not that I had the full picture of the project, by any stretch of the imagination. I didn't even know it was an interactive episode until that was leaked to the world a few weeks back...)
It's been great fun to watch the hype machine ramping up over the last week, and to see everyone enjoying the finished product.
And now that I've learned the fate of my fictional programmer counterpart, and given the fourth-wall-breaking nature of the episode, I have to wonder if I'm now similarly cursed... 😬
Seeing a lot of Americansplaining (and Millennialsplaining?) in my mentions about this comment 😉
I stand by my observation (based on a not-so-scientific survey of Reddit topics at 10AM UK time on Friday) that plenty of people in the US-based and younger-than-me demographics were baffled by the loading noise thing.
I definitely wasn't claiming that 100% of people in those categories would fail to recognise it. If you identify as one of the above and did know what the noise was, well done 👍 #NotAllAmericans #NotAllMillennials
To anyone chasing easter eggs in the game that might unlock extra scenes or paths to an ARG... if anything like that exists, I'm not in on the secret. Sorry to everyone who's been trying to score exactly 20541 points or find messages in the VHS static.
As I mentioned, I had almost no "big picture" knowledge of the show - not even the fact that it was interactive - or where the Spectrum stuff would fit into it.
(That's why the title screen scrolly message is so content-free - I didn't know what in-universe detail I could put in there, or whether the details I *did* know would be spoilers. Even the "© 1984" felt like a reach...)
Besides, my involvement in the project, and the thumbs-up to work on Nohzdyve, happened late enough in the game that sneaking in any plot-critical easter eggs would have to be some serious next-level Xanatos Gambit trickery from the production team.
"Bigger digger bigger bee" was my own easter egg, not Black Mirror's, added in much the same spirit as the ones in the old Atarisoft games: at the time, I wasn't sure if I'd be getting an actual credit... I snuck in a message that would provably link it back to me while not being googleable or breaking any fourth walls that weren't meant to be broken.
But! There was one last bit of Spectrum material I passed on to the production team that I haven't seen them use up to now. It could just be a mundane "left on the cutting room floor" situation. But there's a chance that we haven't seen the last of this yet...
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