Net Yaroze Game Jam 2023

Remembering Nick Ferguson, a tribute.

December 07, 2023, at 05:53 AM by mgarcia in Community, Members (0 comments)

Title: Remembering Nick Ferguson, a tribute. Author: mgarcia Date: 2023-12-07 05:53 +0100 Tags: Community, Members Comments: Open


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Remembering Nick Ferguson, a tribute.

It's with great sadness to hear of the passing of Nick Ferguson on Sunday 8th October 2023.

He has a private memorial page "Friends and Family of Nick Ferguson" on facebook and are fund raising to "buy a memorial bench for Nick Ferguson in his family's favourite place, Bushy Park, for friends & family to visit & spend time with him".

Nick was a director of ID@Azure at Microsoft, but here he is remembered fondly has a passionate and energetic Net Yaroze UK member, rookie1.

The mainstream understanding of the Sony Net Yaroze is a 30 second soundbite sourced from wikipedia, it typically goes something like this-
Sony's under-powered, black, programmable playstation that sold for $750 / £520 in 1997.

Back in the late 1990's there was no concept of "independent development" where anyone, can publish anything, to any store. You had to go through a publisher or onto a shareware compilation distribution. If you wanted to make games for a hobby or a living, the Net Yaroze was the fastest and (relatively) easiest way of being exposed to real world game development and the video game industry, and there was none more dedicated to Net Yaroze then the London's branch of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, ran by Director of Technology, Paul Holman (pictured above).

Net Yaroze was a lot more then hardware and software, if you were bright and had self determination. Nick Ferguson had it and he made the most of it.

Bob scanned and shared the Generation Y article on his member's site, and wrote at the time:
"It all started off with an email from Nick Ferguson, back in the summer. Over the course of several emails it was decided that we were all going to meet up in a pub in Soho."

James recently wrote about that picture-
Photo shoot for EDGE magazine's class of 1999 Yaroze article. The photographer piled us all down an alleyway in London. Shortly after the photo, an angry chef burst out of a side door behind us, holding a meat cleaver. (This may now be way exaggerated across retellings with Nick)

The article was transcribed by Derek and shared here: Edge magazine Christmas 2000 issue (E92) - Generation Y.
Nick is often referenced, yet he only started programming after finding out James had a Net Yaroze and made a game (snowball fight). The next day, Nick started to teach himself how to program in C using a C For Dummies book.

What he lacked in technical ability he made up with creativity, humor, well articulated thoughts, a keen video gamer and movie buff. From the start he documented his time with the Net Yaroze in his world-famous Net Yaroze Diary, in the many Net Yaroze Newsgroup posts, a Member Demos Hub, a friend list and also writing reviews for www.n64gazetta.com.

To say Nick wrote a lot would be an understatement, and it was very appreciated, especially for many of us that didn't live in the UK (or Europe), we were able to partake vicariously through his writings, especially for the very cool industry events:
1) 1998 European Computer Trade Show (ECTS).
2) 1998 Games Developer UK awards (GDUK).
3) 1999 European Computer Trade Show (ECTS).

Nick didn't just write though, he also made two Net Yaroze games, his first game was AMATEUR WARS:

And his second game was MUD'N BLOOD:

Both of which are playable as PS1 ROMs with his readme and source code being entertaining and interesting to read.

His game Mud'N Blood appeared in Australia's Hyper Magazine issue 065, March 1999-03


Image from Nick's diary 4 March, 1999 entry.

Nick then got a job as a game tester and went on to have an impressive career in the video game industry.

Here are some mentions of Nick in Edge Magazine, the #1 video game industry magazine -
  1. Issue 031 - Small N64 question.
  2. Issue 072 - Small review score question.
  3. Issue 075 - Small review score question continued.
  4. Issue 092 - Generation Y - Net Yaroze article.
  5. Issue 128 - Small review score again?
  6. Issue 190 - Class of 2000 - Net Yaroze article.
  7. Issue 212 - XBox Perfect Dark interview.
  8. Issue 215 - MS Game Jam Camp article.
  9. Issue 274 - PS1 20th anniversary article.

Strangely enough, his Net Yaroze games were never put onto a UK OPSM cover disc, but people still found them, played and reviewed them. One such review of Amateur Wars reads in a similar style to Nick's own- fun, witty, informative and sincere. Amusingly Nick referenced it in his GDC Intro to ID@Azure March 2022 presentation.

The full paragraph from The Bad Game Hall of Fame-
"About the most unique feature I can point to is some wonky collision detection should your vehicles happen to collide, where you might be briefly stuck in one another / able to score an easy win by crashing headfirst and firing enough un-dodge-able shots."

Although he might have removed it for later presentations, like in IGEA Intro to ID@Azure Aug 2022, he still had his Net Yaroze there in the background.

While the UK based Net Yaroze experience was very special, it honestly would not have been the same without Nick.

Nick was truly special in his own right, his passion for anything video games, writing talent and fun loving energy, British humor and wit. We were very lucky to have him as a fellow member and community champion.

Although most of us have never met, talked or even communicated recently, Nick's passing was a big shock and very saddening. Our condolences go out to his family and friends at this difficult time.

Final words from his friend and fellow member, James' recently wrote-
Tributes over the last few weeks make it clear that Nick was *very* widely respected, and brought the same good self to everyone.
It's very fitting that he's been awarded the Guildford Games Hero trophy he previously had the honour of presenting - and that they've named it after him for the future:
https://guildford.games/gg-awards-2023-winners
Here's an interview he did with GG this year (I generously get a mention in his backstory)
  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nd46-n8iJvU  

ID@Azure: Supporting Developers featuring Nick Ferguson video by Guildford Games



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