Tile Fall - A Spooky Story


It was about 7:40 on the morning of Friday 21st May, 1999. I was on my usual train into work. It wasn't one of those "fall asleep on the train" friday mornings, I didn't have a new magazine or book to read, so I was playing on my psion, writing a "Pipe Mania" clone as it happens.

The train was about as crowded as usual, so my wife and I weren't sitting next to each other, but kind of not-quite-opposite. I passed my Psion across to her and said...

"try it now. The thermometer-bit works, and try pressing space a few times as well"
"Oh, I see. How do I get it to restart?"
"Press Ctrl-Escape to get out of it, then Ctrl-L to re-translate it"

The bloke sat next to me piped up at this point and said "Do you program the Psion?". It's not toooo unusual for complete strangers to express a slight interest in the Psion, and it's probably just going to be one of those people who ends up saying "Oh, I didn't realise it was possible to write your own programs for it"... what the hell...

"Do you write shareware and stuff?"
"Umm... Yeah, that kind of thing"
"Have you heard of a game called TileFall?"

[pause whilst my brain reels from the shock]

"You're Adam Dawes, aren't you?"
"Hi, I'm Nick Waterman. I run your mailing list!"
"I don't believe it!" (or something - my brain was still resetting)

A handshake and a few "good grief"s and things later, and we start a more intelligible conversation. We realise that Adam has been taking the same train as me every workday morning since about November. We've probably sat opposite each other several times and not realised it - certainly we've both noticed other people with psions and not cared to talk to them (well, it's just NOT DONE on those commuter trains in the mornings), and Adam recognises my mate Chris and the fact that he gets off the train at Clapham.

I've quite often "known" someone on the 'net for quite a long time before I meet them "in real life", and it's always really good to be able to finally put a face to the name or whatever, but usually this kind of thing happens at well-planned events - "are you going to the such-and-such psion show? shall we meet up for a pint?" or something - and it's certainly NOT the kind of thing you expect to happen well before 8am on a friday morning!

For reference, Adam has been contacted by Symbian (who he later realised are only a few blocks away from where he works) to ask if they can use TileFall to showcase some new hardware or something. It might be their latest mobile-phone-psion or whatever, and they presumably want some software to show it off to customers or something like that. Anyway, he's meeting them sometime, and signing non- disclosure agreements and everything, and then they'll presumably ask him to make a few modifications appropriate to the new machine, or whatever - he doesn't know the details yet.

Adam's recently released "Chain Reaction" for the S5, and is now working on a game called "Blobs" (if I recall correctly) which is a sort of tetris / columns type game except it's not quite either. I'm working on a "Pipe Mania" type thing, as you may have gathered.

Anyway, this sounded like an excuse to re-visit my tilefall web pages, so you'll now find the internet high scores file back online. I see Adam has also set up a club-thing at yahoo that you can use instead/as well as this mailing-list.

Nick Waterman - Email Me