GAMESAUTEURS DE JEUX ★ DAVID PERRY - NICK BRUTY - SAVAGE STORY|AMSTRAD COMPUTER USER) ★

DAVID PERRY & NICK BRUTY: SAVAGE STORYDAVID PERRY & NICK BRUTY: SOFTOGRAPHY AMSTRAD CPC
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David Perry writes about the ideas and programming problems behind the development of his new CPC-coded mega game

MY Z88 was lying under my bed collecting dust. It had been there since a week after I had first showed it off to everyone. I picked it up, wiped the dust off with my hand and the U key ripped off, flying back under my bed. Beneath the bed I courageously went, fighting my way through endless listings, smelly socks, rancid coffee cups and uncashed cheques. By the time I located it a man-eating spider had laid claim to it, so I gave up. I rang Cambridge Computers and, can you believe it, they wanted £25 for a new U key.

David Perry


So as far as this article goes, if there are any Us missing, togh!

I, David "is it my imagination or is everyone else shorter than me?" Perry have been knocking around the games world for about seven years. And yes, I started on a ZX81. In the cold and frosty winter of 1981,1 found it made a great little hot water bottle. I was thinking of writing to Sir Clive to arrange dealership for exploiting a vast potential market -the world's first yuppie hot water bottle - but he dashed my hopes by releasing the Speccy, which was too big for the average yuppie inside-breast pocket.

My fellow collaborator, Nick "wear dark sunglasses when skate boarding" Bruty, has been trying to design graphics on computers for two years now. It must be said that after the first year, when someone told him he didn't need typewriter correction fluid on the screen, he did much better. He is really a frustrated programmer at heart and has lots of bug ridden sprite routines to show off his wonderful graphics. In the olden days I used to work at Mikro-Gen with recluses such as Raffaele "Cybernoid" Cecco, Dave "Ikari Warriors" Shea, Chris "Battle of the Planets" Hinsley and Nick "Vixen on the CBM" Jones. I also got the odd visit from my old pal Chris "Nebulus" Wood, who I first met at a Microfair while I was wearing a huge Wally Week outfit consisting of a great big papier mache head with a huge red nose and buck teeth. He says he didn't notice the difference when I took it off. Grrrr.

At Mikro-Gen I wrote games like Herbert's Runny Bum and Stainless Steel. I also wrote Three Weeks in Paradise, which was at first to use the ill-fated MicroPlus add-on rom; it caused great hassles when that add-on flopped, meaning I had to crowbar a 64k game into 48k. After a blood-stained mutiny over the length of lunch breaks, I turned freelance along with Raff, Chris Hinsley and Nick Jones. Mikro-Gen went
bust and was bought by CSD which, not to be outdone, went bust itself.

Chris and Raff now live together, though not in the biblical sense, and Nick Jones is about to start a life of sin with his girlfriend, proving that great programming teams never die, they just smell funny. Enough of the totally untrue life story, what about the game... The best game ever

The last game I wrote for Probe was Trantor. That was when I joined up with Nick Bruty, who produces amazing graphics if you are prepared to listen to Bladerunner theme music all day long. We got on well together, and decided to work as a team on future projects.


Nick Bruty (1988)

Fergus McGovern, the boss, was happy we were working together because as I tend to work in daylight, Nick actually had to get out of bed in the mornings. This made sending Fergus demos before the Post Office closed that much simpler.

To celebrate Nick changing from a moon worshipper to a sun supplicant Fergus gave us a nice simple task to get started on. Quote: "Make it the best game ever". Not too difficult to beat Brave-star, eh Ferg? The only way I could see how to do that was with lots of graphics, lots of music and lots of program.
When he is actually up in the daytime, Nick watches TV, irons clothes, shops - anything to avoid work - issuing statements like: "I am a creative person... I need my inspiration... Rome wasn't built in a day..." To make sure he does work, we arranged for him to work at my house.

The trouble is, Nick only has two cars. The invalid carriage-blue Ford Capri is permanently on the operating table, and the other - the amazing Turbo V8,3.5 litre boot, electric bonnet, power assisted petrol cap, anti skid seat covers for those difficult bends - was designed by computers, built by robots and wrecked by Nick. So now the train takes the strain.

The game, which we would eventually title Savage, is presently about a man who is chained up in a dungeon, soon to be horribly executed. The death sequence was going to show the man playing the Amstrad version of Quartet, followed by his brain exploding - but we thought this a bit anachronistic and unnecessarily cruel.

The man in Savage is looked kindly upon by one of his gods, who takes pity on him and promptly sets him free from his cell. In level one you must help him escape from the dungeon complex. Lots of killing involved. My sort of game. Huge explosions. Eat your heart out, Raff. Yeah!

Level two would be running down from the hills through a solid 3D animated valley to get away from the city; level three would be where you return to the city on the back of an armour clad panther to save your fellow prisoners.

Each level would be a completely different load and style, but each would follow on in plot from the previous one, so making this the most humungous game ever written for the Straddles. You would be given a code at the end of each level that would make the next level stacks easier, but you would be able to play any level at any time for practice.

The first idea was to have each level being the next stage of evolution. Nick wanted it to start as plankton - one spray of the air brush and that would be all the graphics drawn - but we decided you would start as a monkey, and mutate upwards to eventually become a barbarian type warrior. This then changed because Nick hated the idea of drawing a monkey.

So we decided to start as a barbarian type warrior in the days of Ben Hur and have a game of slave races, gladiators and chariot races. We would call it The Roman Games.

Nick didn't see how you could have big horses, a chariot and a man on horseback fighting other men in other chariots without it looking like a horrible mess. So it changed again, this time to the barbarian type man locked in a dungeon about to die. Stuck for a title, we called it Project 5 until I came up with the idea of being in control of a giant eagle instead of a panther at the end of level three. We would call it Eagle Warrior and design the rest as we went along.
The scrolling was easy peasy lemon squeezy -just a matter of dusting off the Trantor routines. Oops. What a give away. It was really hard, Fergus. Honest.
To get the big man fully animated I needed to squish his frames as much as possible. I knocked together a utility called Toast. It compressed the man's frames from 12k down to 4k. Great. Then Nick added a cape and a mask so he stood out well from the background, and it grew to 6k. Oh well, 6k is still good for a 64 x 64, twelve-frame man.

We were never happy with the animation of the main man because he insisted on running and moving like a wimp. The animation changed and changed and changed - we gave him swords, capes, helmets, armour... Then we decided on the Gonad the Barbiturate look - big chest and groin. He now looks like a pretty mean hunk; a savage warrior. That's where the eventual title of the game came from.

Anybody who saw Trantor might just have noticed that Nick draws a pretty nifty display panel. So through the screams of "I hate drawing panels", rabid scribbling and stabbing his sketch pad, he whipped up level one and level two panels. I thought they were bee-rilliant, but after looking at them for so long while writing the game, I got boringly used to them. After heaps of tweaking, I love them again.

Level one and two are coming along very nicely indeed. The 3D in level two is nice and fast and Nick has used as much colour as possible. Soon I shall be slapping in all Nick's new graphics for level two, then I'll decide what is needed alongside the eagle in level three.
As far as the introduction goes David Whittaker, the man who writes the music for all the best computer games, has been asked to write an amazing score, and Nick is going to draw Early days an old haggard wizardy man the height of the screen. We will try to get the old man's lips and eyes to move as he reads out in digitised speech the story that sets the scene. We will also add a big flashy Probe cum Firebird logo.

Our only means of escape from the frantic hours of programming - when Nick gets to my house at a decent hour - is to go water skiing at Thorpe Park. It does my heart good to see Nick hit the surface of the iake at 30 knots as he yet again

fails to negotiate the buoys. I reckon it's the extra weight of the air tanks and the mask steaming up that does it. He gets annoyed when I put on some Wet Wet Wet during the drive home...

And that's about it, except that Nick has regressed into a moon worshipper again and is complaining about drawing the eagle. Togh!

ACU #8811

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L'Amstrad CPC est une machine 8 bits à base d'un Z80 à 4MHz. Le premier de la gamme fut le CPC 464 en 1984, équipé d'un lecteur de cassettes intégré il se plaçait en concurrent  du Commodore C64 beaucoup plus compliqué à utiliser et plus cher. Ce fut un réel succès et sorti cette même années le CPC 664 équipé d'un lecteur de disquettes trois pouces intégré. Sa vie fut de courte durée puisqu'en 1985 il fut remplacé par le CPC 6128 qui était plus compact, plus soigné et surtout qui avait 128Ko de RAM au lieu de 64Ko.