My KO2WC article on Greek PC Master magazine (translated)

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My KO2WC article on Greek PC Master magazine (translated)

Postby alkis21 » Fri Dec 28, 2012 12:31 am

I recently started writing for a Greek computer games magazine. I mostly cover adventure games, but I couldn't miss the opportunity to write a piece on the world cup. Well, it's actually more about the KOA and Kick Off 2 in general and less about the actual competition, as I first had to let people know what we're all about, and I had limited space. But I still think it's worth reading if anyone cares.

Download the article
(only available to KOAers. PM me for the password)

For any Greeks that wish to buy it, the issue is out today.

Translation:

Page 1:


12th Kick Off 2 World Cup

Our bytes are few, but our goals are many...

The Kick Off 2 World Cup is one of the most important retrogaming events, with a long history and a strong Greek element. We were at the cosmopolitan city of Milan in November 17-18, and we are reporting our impressions.

By Alkis Polyrakis alkis21@freemail.gr

Writing an article in a modern PC magazine about an international competition of a computer game released in 1990 is not easy. First of all, you are off topic by default, since it is not PC related. The game is played on a Commodore Amiga. Second, you are addressing readers most of whom were born after 1985, which means that they probably don’t even know what a Commodore Amiga is. Not to mention the unlucky coincidence of writing this right after the issue where e-sports were introduced, with hundreds of thousands of Euro as awards, as well as FIFA 2013 with its improved Impact Engine. In order to succeed in this difficult mission, I’m going to shamelessly invoke the resort that teaches us the basic principles of journalism, as expressed in the poem “The Elephant’s Child” by Rudyard Kipling: "I keep six honest servingmen, they taught me all I knew; their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who."

What on earth is this, and when was it made?

In 1987 one of the most powerful home computers company, Commodore International Limited, commonly known simply as Commodore, released a model that was loved by millions of people, the notorious Amiga 500. We are talking about a computer with a 7.09MHz processor and 521KB RAM of memory. I realize that most of you are having trouble picturing a cell phone with these specifications, much less a computer, however that machine brought a revolution in home computing and games in particular. Two years later, a small company in Dartford England called ANCO, created the pinnacle game in the history of football titles, Kick Off. It was the spiritual child of just two people, Dino Dini who wrote the code and Steve Screech who did the –simple, even by 80s standards- graphics.

Bottom left picture: A sample of the game’s amazing (!) graphics

Page 2

Top left picture: The official banner of the competition
Top right picture: The most powerful countries in world cups


The sequel that was released in the summer of 1990 was the most popular of the series, and the one in which some of us are still competing till present day.

Kick Off 2 fits in a 720 Kilobytes floppy disk. It has a top-down view, and in order to control it you definitely need an old style joystick, as it would be very difficult to handle with keys. As its main trait I could mention the total freedom that it offers to the player, after he manages to gain some control over it of course, something not easy at all at first. The ball does not stay glued on the players’ feet, on the contrary you move it forward by constantly pushing it. The greatest innovations that the game offered were a ball that behaved exactly like a real football as far as its physical properties and flow were concerned, and a field of actual ratio. Everything happens with a single fire button and there are no predetermined moves. All of the above make Kick Off 2 so unfailing, that we are still witnessing goals we have never seen before, even 22 years after its release. How many modern football simulators can offer you that?

In March 2001, a group of Dutch enthusiasts of the game started a forum in order to meet more fans. That small group bore the ambitious name Kick Off Association. Progress was slow at first, until Steve Screech himself joined and not only participated in the discussions but even organized the first World Cup in November of the same year, at a hotel near ANCO’s premises, which was still in operation at the time. My writing skills are not good enough to describe how I felt when I traveled to Dartford, visited the company and competed against players from other countries. You are gamers too so I’m sure you can relate. Oh, and one more detail: I won the trophy. There’s no harm in mentioning that…

A lot has happened since then. Apart from the annual world cup, which we had the honor to host twice in Athens, local and international tournaments are held often. More than 400 players from 18 countries have participated in them, having played more than 20,000 matches and scored more than 140,000 goals. Every time we think we have found everyone who is still playing the game, more friends join the fun. And every time someone is considered to be an unbeatable champion, someone manages to beat him.

Where does this all happen, and how is it organized?

Big tournaments such as World Cups or national championships are organized in hotels. Everyone take care of their own expenses and there is a small fee which covers the costs. Smaller tournaments are nothing more than simple meeting at friends’ houses, with 2-3 Amiga set up. If at least four players participate and the results are posted in our forum (http://www.ko-gathering.com/forum/index.php), it is considered official and the scores count in the World Rankings calculation. We’d love to tell you that we have sponsors and tempting prizes, but that’s not true.

This year’s event took place at the Antares Hotel Concorde in Milan. The greatest burden fell on the shoulders of the active world champion Gianni Torchio, MariaChiara Zacchi and Alessandro Verrani. Everything worked perfectly and every aspect of the weekend, from the group draw to the “real” football we played on Saturday evening –yes, we did that too- and of course the actual games, was carefully designed so that we all feel welcome and lucky to be there. The 40 players were divided into four groups of 10 for the first day of the competition. The top four of each group qualified to the second round, where they were again divided into two groups of eight,

Bottom right picture: All the necessary measures that ensured the draw’s transparency were taken

Page 3

Top left picture: Our editor with the great Dino Dini
Top right picture: All the players


before the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final followed. It is worth noting that the players who do not qualify continued to play classification matches throughout the entire weekend, so that by its end everyone had played an approximately equal number of matches.

Who participates, and why?

For the first time ever, Dino Dini himself honored the competition with his presence, and he never grew tired of signing autographs and discussing the details of his masterpiece with his fans. He also participated as a player, although he was rather rusty! That was a great incentive for people to attend, as none of the great Kick Off 2 players wanted to miss this year’s World Cup, and that resulted to the most difficult competition ever.

Five Greeks traveled from Athens, each of us with his own history in retro computers. George Kakaletris, the old Pixel magazine editor with his brother Kostas, the owner of the historic computer store Infoworld Ektoras Kapsoulis, and Panayotis Pantazis, former editor of Just Adventure. We didn’t succeed in winning anything this year, but that was not important. We were all first drawn to the KOA by the prospect of facing the world’s best players on what we believe to be the best video game of all times. But what makes us keep going despite our age and obligations are the friends we’ve made over the years. We are mostly interested in meeting again with the gang with which we have bonded. I have hosted many of these people in my house, we’ve been to each other’s weddings, we’ve watched children being born and careers being developed. There are too many things that bring us together to quit now, and naturally we have no desire to replace face to face experience with online gaming. Sure, when these people are sitting next to me in front of the monitor I may have the strong desire to humiliate them like French poodles, but afterwards we’ll go together to the bar for a beer.

For those of us who were football fans the year Kick Off 2 was released, it comes as no surprise that there are still so many people who love it. Perhaps after watching YouTube videos or trying it on an Amiga emulator you cannot understand what we see in it, and wonder why we do not turn to the modern titles that resemble the actual sport so much. Trust us, we too think it’s equally weird that you put up with those beautiful football watching simulators, no matter how nicely they depict Balotelli’s celebration. We will keep going and continue to travel, literally and figuratively, because what we experience is a very beautiful fairy tale that we don’t want to end… with just one sad part: the trophy has not returned to my hands yet. But as long as I am alive, I continue to hope…

Bottom left picture: The top 16 of this year’s competition
Bottom right picture: Projection of the groups on the big screen
Remember, remember, the 4th and the 3rd of November
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Re: My KO2WC article on Greek PC Master magazine (translated

Postby Freshmaker » Fri Dec 28, 2012 7:58 am

Nice Alkis :) Hope it spawns more interest ;)
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Re: My KO2WC article on Greek PC Master magazine (translated

Postby Rodolfo » Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:34 am

Beautiful article Alkis. Congratulations.
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My KO2WC article on Greek PC Master magazine (translated)

Postby durban » Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:57 am

Very nicely written Alkis, well done!
No longer the only UK based Liverpool, Nottingham Forest and Crewe supporter in the whole of the KOA!!!
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My KO2WC article on Greek PC Master magazine (translated)

Postby Stainy » Sat Dec 29, 2012 5:00 pm

880 kilobytes :)
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Re: My KO2WC article on Greek PC Master magazine (translated

Postby r.cross » Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:12 pm

:) Nice - thanks!
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Re: My KO2WC article on Greek PC Master magazine (translated

Postby Torchiador » Mon Dec 31, 2012 1:05 am

Masterpiece! my biggest compliments!!!!
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