See you in Wakefield in one week’s time

No wait, Wradfold… no, I mean Bradford!

That’s right, this year’s Wradfold Wakefield Show is just one week away. It takes place on 27th April – next Saturday – in Bradford.

The continued unavailability of the more usual Cedar Court Hotel on the outskirts of Wakefield is the reason for it being held just a short distance further afield again, though it’s still being held in a Cedar Court Hotel. If you haven’t visited the show since they switched to the new/temporary venue, you may wish to tweak your satnavs (or adjust any train tickets and other travel arrangements) to head for:

The Cedar Court Hotel Bradford,
Mayo Avenue,
Rooley Lane,
BD5 8HW.

While it’s a different location, it’s worth remembering that it’s quite a bit more accessible than the Wakefield venue – the show room is on the ground floor (which is also good for exhibitors), and on top of that it’s a much larger space.

The show will be open to the public from 10:30am until 4:30pm, with an entry price of £5.00 for most people, but children aged twelve and under can get in for free if accompanied by an adult.

But what can you expect to see for your fiver?

Well, including the organisers themselves, the Wakefield RISC OS Computer Club, there are eighteen exhibitors listed on the show website, covering a good cross section of purveyors of modern hardware on which to run RISC OS, and software developers that produce tools and applications, as well as those that cater to the less serious but equally important leisure time. Reading time is also covered, and you’ll be able to reminisce about the good old days by spending time around retro exhibitors – and quite possibly be surprised at how they’re keeping old kit up to date.

As ever, at this stage I can’t really say too much about what you might specifically see on most of the stands, because most of the exhibitors tend to be tight lipped, and only send out their announcements at the very last minute. They’re likely to still be beavering away, even as I type this, trying to get things finished and polished – or even just working – so don’t like to say too much ahead of the event, just in case they can’t display this, or show off that.

That being said, there is some news already out there.

If you are an Archive subscriber, you will undoubtedly have received the latest issue of the magazine – volume 27, issue 1 – very recently. If you have yet to get around to reading it, and you’re heading to Bradford by train, you could read that one on the way there and volume 27, issue 2 on the way back home. Yup, editor Gavin Smith is planning to publish the next issue on the day of the show. I believe he may also be planning to attend in person this year, as well.

Another source of reading material is on-off-on-off-under-new-management PDF magazine, Drag ‘n Drop – the Spring 2024 issue of which will be available to take away (editor Chris Dewhurst will be able to load it onto your own USB drive, or email your copy to you). There will also be a range of other publications available from the Drag ‘n Drop stand, as well as a graphics tablet with RISC OS software to drive it.

As well as reading, another computer-related leisure activity is gaming. Two obvious exhibitors to visit for that are Soft Rock Software and AMCOG Games.

In the case of Soft Rock Software – i.e. me – you’ll be able to buy the Collection on CD or USB memory stick, which amongst other things contains the mid-1990s versions of Escape from Exeria and Drop Rock, along with Guardians of the Labyrinth, Switch!, Floopy, Quicksand, Sacred Pyramid, and the Purple Crystal of the Heavens – a selection of old games to keep you occupied. More up to date, you’ll also be able to pick up the 2020 version of Escape from Exeria on CD, which features eighty levels to play – double the original number – with a new challenge from level 41, as well as new graphics and sound. You’ll also be able to see (and try) the current work in progress – a sequel to Drop Rock featuring larger maps, and new graphics, and hear about the plans for it. I had hoped to also be demonstrating another work in progress, a sequel to Escape from Exeria, but that unfortunately hasn’t progressed beyond the ‘notes/to do’ stage.

AMCOG will have their growing range of games available, with that growth continuing for this show with another new title: Light Gate. The game has been in development for a little while, with its inspiration coming from an old audio tape Tony Bartram picked up in a charity shop, and which features some rather unusual sounds.

Concept art for Light Gate's RPG mode
Concept art for Light Gate’s RPG mode

RPG mode? Yes, according to Tony the game will feature ‘a bit of RPG conversation’ as well as some ‘simple 3D light fighting’ and some mini-games within the game itself. He describes it as ‘2.5D play with puzzle games and cut scenes’.

If you want to know more about how the game came about and the development progress, there’s a series of development blog videos on the AMCOG YouTube channel, the latest episode of which went up only a few weeks ago.

If you want something on which to run Light Gate or Escape from Exeria, or any of the other games available from Soft Rock Software or AMCOG, your ports of call should include R-Comp and RISCOSbits, both of whom will have a range of hardware available – and quite often (well, pretty much always) have something new at shows. And in the case of R-Comp, you may as well add another game to your collection – they launched a snazzy new version of Hexen at the Southwest Show.

Hardware-wise, both companies are likely to be demonstrating and selling hardware that makes use of NVMe drives – an important development shown off at the Southwest Show in February – such as Project N.Ex.T from R-Comp and VENOM from RISCOSbits.

Another piece of news from that show is that Wi-Fi is now a thing for RISC OS, with two solutions coming from two different sources – RISC OS Open Limited (ROOL) and RISC OS Developments Ltd (ROD). Neither are yet ready for full release, but both are in active development (with the ROD one also now available to try out) – so this show will allow you to see what further progress has been made on both. Check out the R-Comp stand in particular to see it in use on Pinebook Pro laptops.

You might reasonably expect certain stands to be a bit busy, with those present talking to visitors (who will hopefully also be customers – that helps keep the things ticking; exhibitors exhibiting, and the show, er, showing, folks) – so if you can’t get a minute with the people manning the stands, try getting a seat in the show theatre for their talks?

And finally, the show’s organisers will again be running a prize draw on the day – so don’t forget to visit their stand. Tickets will cost £1 each, and be limited to two tickets per person – and in return for those tickets, you will be in with a chance (well, two chances, obviously) of winning one of six prizes:

  • First prize is a graphics tablet from Drag ‘n Drop.
  • Second prize is a Mystery Machine (probably not of the Scooby Gang variety) from RISCOSbits.
  • Third prize is a discount voucher for hardware or software purchased from R-Comp – which will be honoured retroactively if you’ve already bought something from them at the show.
  • Fourth prize is £75 voucher from the WROCC that can be used with any exhibitor.
  • Fifth prize is a copy of Font Directory Pro from Elesar.
  • Sixth prize is a £25 voucher from WROCC that can be used with any exhibitor.

The winning tickets will be drawn at 3:15pm.

So with that, what else is there to say other than ‘See you there!’

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