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Oh Danny Boy

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  • 6 years later...

No one seems to mention it, but CVG's artist-drawn covers really were amazing. Each cover is striking, often enhancing upon their source material, yet there is a consistency that makes it easy to recognise the mag as CVG. I'm less fond of the 2000AD-influenced covers of the late 80s and early 90s, though it's still better than the publisher-provided renders that we often get in the 2000s. 




I wish there were an artbook of these covers!

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  • 4 months later...

Ed Lomas turned up posting on Reddit again recently!





What was you're favourite magazine to work for?

It was CVG. It was the first one and I started full-time when I'd just turned 18. There were 5 or 6 of us, all young, all crazy about games, all just wanting to make the best games mag there was. Our life was that magazine - we worked insane hours then hung out together drinking and playing games when we weren't in the office. It was hugely fun and we were essentially left to do what we wanted. CVG was close to being shut down due to poor sales when we took it over so there was nothing to lose, and we were able to make it this densely packed, colourful, silly magazine that was also the most hardcore gaming mag we could come up with. We wanted to emulate the Japanese magazines we loved - they made us excited about games even though we couldn't read a word of them. We were really proud of the mag and chuffed that so many people 'got it', despite it being different from other games mags (our bosses never really 'got it' at all). So that was a great time - it was my first job and it honestly never felt like a job, it just felt like FUN!


I was proud of all three of those mags I worked on fully but CVG was a unique time and place.


2 - Is there a game you reviewed poorly that is now considered a classic or hidden gem?

Hmmm.... good question... I like to think I was always able to spot the hidden gems before most people so hopefully never made any big mistakes! I'll have to look at some old reviews of mine to see if I can see any. I did lean towards reviewing fairly harshly as games cost a lot of money and there are loads of them, so saying everything is "One for fans of the genre - 87%" like many other magazines did seemed unfair on the reader. So we did our own scoring system out of 5 on CVG then used out of 10 on Official Dreamcast Magazine, and we were known for often rating things lower than other Dreamcast mags. I just saw on one of your scans that I gave Virtua Fighter 3tb 7/10, which seems super-harsh, but I remember how let down I was by that version. But in hindsight, it never went on to become a classic did it, so maybe I was right?


There are various games I never thought were that good but we always had multiple reviewers on the team and would try to have the person most in-tune with that type of game do the review, so they'd give it a fair shot. I always found the Gran Turismo games to be spectacularly dull and dreary to play, for example, but lots of people loved them.


3 - What's the best article/review you ever wrote?


I'll struggle to remember favourites off the top of my head (all my old magazines are in storage in a relative's attic) but I loved some of the 4 or 6-page reviews I'd do in CVG. We made it so the reviews were just a series of boxes which each talked about a different aspect of the game, so they could all be unique and designed differently depending on the game you were talking about. The ones I liked most were where I'd play the game a huge amount, then spend ages taking screenshots (I was always a screenshot perfectionist!) then work with a designer to do a page layout with sequences explaining how the game worked or showing off a cool move. Ones I remember going to town on like this were Turok, Tekken 3, Fighting Vipers, the Marvel Super Heroes games... I often did the fighting game reviews so always wanted to show sequences breaking down the combo system. I don't know how many people cared but it was very important to me at the time!


On Official Dreamcast Magazine we got to do things that were a bit more stylish and professional. As soon as I arrived on the mag the editor sent me to Japan to go to the Tokyo Game Show and asked for a 20-page feature on Japanese culture, how the country perceives video games and Dreamcast, then previews of Shenmue and loads of other upcoming games. It was intimidating as that was the opposite of the sort of thing we did on CVG but I went with a photographer who got loads of beautiful photos and working with the designers at the end we ended up with a really cool feature. Again, I just saw your scan of it for the first time in ages and it was better than I remember. It helped teach me I could do more than just write game reviews!


4 - Your best memory or funny story from that era?

It was a very funny time with lots of laughter but I don't know how funny any of it would be when told now, and sober! We'd always get a bit hysterical around the monthly deadline as invariably we'd spent too long playing games and not enough time making the magazine, so the final week would involve lots of late nights and often an all-nighter right at the end just to get the magazine out of the door (normally still late, with the printing film having to be sent from London to Cornwall in a taxi in a desperate bid not to miss our printing slot). Working like that without sleeping really makes your brain go wrong, so a lot of bizarre humour came out of it and made its way into the magazines. When I look back at some of the magazines there are parts that make very little sense because they were made right at the last minute. Actually, I do remember when we were relaunching CVG and hopelessly behind schedule on the final night, at around 4am one of our guys sat down to start reviewing a game and couldn't even work out how to get off the title screen, his brain was so broken. He just sat there half-crying, half-laughing. There would be unusual big bits of artwork dropped into the magazine where we just completely failed to do the work we were supposed to do (I saw somebody shared a full-page bit of MDK artwork in CVG... that was definitely meant to be something else!).



When I first moved onto the Official Dreamcast Magazine they had these big fashion photoshoots which were very loosely based on Sega games. I thought they were an awful idea.


There were various attempts to get mainstream 'lifestyle' content into games magazines as games were still seen by many as very nerdy, and lifestyle magazines were very cool and popular at the time (FHM, Loaded, Maxim, etc). So we would be pushed by publishers to feature pop stars or appear in photoshoots that we didn't want to, and that always felt weird to me. I just wanted to write about the games and figure that's what everybody wanted to read too. I think after a while we found a decent balance on Official Dreamcast Magazine, with a bit of real life in there but still always based around the games.


In those days we'd see everything long before the general public as magazines were pretty much the only way news, screenshots and reviews of games got out, so this happened a lot. A few specific things I remember...

We had a really early demo of Resident Evil on PlayStation. It was only a few rooms but was already terrifying. It had the bit with the dogs jumping through the window then you got to a room with a giant spider and all the babies. It was terrifying and you could tell straight away it was going to be huge.


I remember the PR guy from Activision coming to show me some games and I was nosing through his pile of other CDs and there was one with "TONY HAWK" written on it. I used to be a skater so I asked "Is that about the skateboarder?" and he was like "Yeah, it's early and not very good" but I asked to have a look. It was pretty much just a basic physics demo where you could skate up and down some hills, but the feeling of it was amazing so again that got me really excited very early. I don't think I was allowed to write about it yet though as they'd not announced it.


One of my favourite bits of info I got was when interviewing Yuji Naka from Sonic Team. I love NiGHTS on Saturn so even though we were talking about Dreamcast at the time I had to ask a bit about NiGHTS and I got him to mention how they had started working on a sequel called Air NiGHTS, and the reason the cable can be detached from the Saturn analogue joypad was because Air NiGHTS would have come with a motion sensor you'd plug in and you'd play by waving the controller around in the air. I don't think he ever spoke about this any other time so it was amazing info for me as a fan and a great scoop to get out of an interview (even though there's probably not that many people out there who cared!).





We'd been planning the relaunch of CVG for 6 months - the publishers had made us hold off making the change (I can't remember why) so we had to do 5 or 6 issues in the old design, which we hated. The mag gradually changed a bit during that time but this was the one where we started everything again from scratch. The publisher made us do the logo in red and yellow so people who were used to the old design would be able to recognise it, which I thought was a silly idea.


We originally got a logo done by Designers Republic, but again the publishers wouldn't let us use it. It looked like something from Wipeout, like Japanese-style characters spelling out 'CVG!' (the exclamation mark looked like a TV with a console under it). We never really liked 'Computer & Video Games' as a name so always referred to it as CVG. I think the publisher said the logo we wanted looked like it said "CUG", so that ended up becoming a running joke in the magazine somehow.


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