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A damaged viaduct, Hiey said. As it happens, this is one of the better excerpts from the British Rail book of excuses. Better than “leaves on the track", “the wrong kind of snow" or “elephants in the butter' at any rate. Not that a decent excuse is much consolation. Especially since the viaduct in question is the Leamington Spa viaduct, and I'm on my way to see Codemasters in, you guessed it, Leamington Spa.

Five hours of missed connections, cancelled trains, early terminations and standing around on platforms later, and a bedraggled and bedoggled figure crawls through the front door of Lower Farm House. I'm cold. I'm wet. miserable. I spot a familiar grinning, bloated white chap in the corner of the room, and stagger over to share my tales of rail travel grief.

Half an hour of pretty one-sided conversation later, someone comes over and points out that I have been talking to a stuffed toy. Humph. Richard Eddy and Paul Ranson show up on the scene, shake their heads in a perturbed manner, and usher me into a room where they ply me with cups of coffee.

Richard has a cold, his first illness for three years apparently, and Paul has been up all night working on 16-bit stuff.

Richard sits the stuffed toy down by his desk. We call him a potato (the toy character, that is, not Richard), the Codies if pushed call him a lard ball (the toy character, that is, not Richard), but you probably know him (the toy character, that is, not Richard) as Seymour, everyone's favourite arcade adventurer.

Paul Ranson is the man who originally gave birth to Seymour, while he was working for Big Red Software. Big Red had designed Dizzy 4 (Magic Land Dizzy) and were asked to write the next Dizzy game, Dizzy 5, in time for the following Christmas.

What they created was a game that placed Dizzy for the first time in a non-fantasy environment. There was a tree hut section to tie it in with the previous game, but the main plot saw Dizzy as a movie star, travelling through lots of different movie sets, meeting up with all his Yolk Folk mates (who were playing the other characters).

Dizzy In Movie Land it was called, and it was only a few days away from completion when someone up top decided that Dizzy shouldn't be taken out of a fantasy setting. Big Red had two choices; they could either scrap the whole (virtually finished) project, or else come up with a new character to star in the game.

A few sketches later and they had come up with a potato-shaped dude, which a passing person referred to as looking like a friend of theirs called Seymour(!). And so Seymour the superstar was born. All the other Dizzy characters in the game were replaced with human figures, and Seymour goes to Hollywood was the title on the loading scheme when the game eventually hit the shops (on the Cartoon Collection compilation).

After the arcade spin-off Super Seymour (christened Bombjack 2 by the cynics), the time has come for the next ‘proper'1 Seymour game. The Codies have become aware of three common criticisms of their arcade adventure games; the games are too big (there's too much boring walking), you don't know how far you've got, and you often die far too easily.

According to their research, Prince of the Yolk Folk is their most popular arcade adventure to date.

Its also probably the shortest one they've done. With Seymour in the Wild West they intend to address the problems raised, creating a game that is split into separate (shortish) sections.

The game involves Seymour donning a cowboy hat starring in a The Way West/Big Country style film. The film is all about Seymour's journey across America from the East Coast to the West Coast. The game will take place in bite size chunks, each section being a different day.

For instance, the first part will be day one of the filming, with Seymour travelling from the harbour to the railway station (where he buys a ticket and boards the train). The second day would see the train being ambushed by Indians. There would also be scenes of travelling on a wagon train, working in a gold mine, etc.

Or at least, that's probably what the game will be like. At the moment Wild West consists of nothing more than a graphic of Seymour in a hat and a few ideas scribbled down on paper. Over the next couple of weeks, the Codies posse will be thinking up puzzles (20-30 of them) to include in the game, and starting work on the map.

We rejoin the crew in five weeks time, and learn all about how they knock up the graphics. Don't miss next month's issue for the details...

Paul Ranson and Seynour finalise an International marketing deal. Seymour is currently writing a game about Paul.

The Leamington posse - Here's the Codemasters game development posse.
From left to right: Paul Ranson (Development Manager, 25), controls game development from start to finish; Richard Eddy (PR Manager, 23), helps with development, liases with the press; Shan Savage (Creative Manager, 25), plans illustrations, monitors the graphics; Stuart Regan (Production Manager, 24), keeps everything to schedule.

Some of the glamorous young things that hang around the Codies front office. In staged 'diary checking' pose.



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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.