In which the true authorship of the Design Design auto-profile becomes perfectly clear — and we learn that Graham Stafford is good at going for the milk .......
The time: 2:11 am, 26th August 1985; the place: Graham’s bedroom. The Design Design card sharps are gathered around the table when .......
Si: ‘Hey, what time is it guys?’
Simon: ‘A bit after two, why?’
Si: ‘It’s just struck me that Graham and I have an article to write for Crash, and only eight hours to do it!’
Graham (peering past a pair of queens): ‘Yeah, tell you what, make this the last hand, and if you make a start Si, I’ll run this lot into town and try and find some milk!’
So here I am, abandoned yet again, with only Graham’s word processor to keep me company, and a nasty feeling about what Graeme (CRASH) is going to say to me if I don’t write this article. So Ladies and Gentlemen, pin back your ears, roll up your trouser legs and prepare for the latest instalment in Crash’s new soap opera.
The past few weeks have seen much frantic activity, centred mainly in and around the board room (Junction Inn) as we all sat down and designed the next two games. This process involves everybody at Design Design sitting round a couple of tables pontificating at great length (or as Wook puts it, ‘Going on’), waving bits of paper covered in strange sketches in the air, and getting strange looks from the locals. We did however actually manage to get Forbidden Planet and something currently titled Graham’s Game, defined to the point where Graham and Simon can start writing with some idea of what they’re trying to do.
Mind you, it wasn’t all roses and smiling faces. After one of these meetings, Simon went off in a fit of depression, complaining gloomily that there was no way he could get Forbidden Planet’s graphics to match Dark Star’s 50 frames per second, if we all kept insisting on having animated clouds in the sky. He is not alone. Stuart, the guy who did the On The Run graphics, was last seen trudging off back to Cheltenham with a look of desperation on his face. He had just been subjected to the preliminary spec of Graham’s Game.
And thus was the grand Scheme Of Things For Christmas drawn up. Graham meanwhile finished the monumental task of putting On The Run on the Amstrad, and very pretty it is too. For once I think all you Spectrum owners out there have lost out, however a CBM 64 version is not planned. On The Run also makes some great noises in Amstrad guise. I helped Graham with these, but not enough to be blamed for it! Still, all in all Mr Stafford did a very credible job, and all in three weeks! We went over to Leeds to master said proggy last Friday, a lovely drive in the summer torrential rain!
Simon, on the other hand, has been putting the finishing touches to the filing system on his new computer hired to replace Basil. Basil, Simon’s mainstay in times of stress, has been thrown across the room once too often and has now been reduced to finding all the prime numbers up to a million out of sheer boredom. Basil, by the way, was retired from active service due to a few fits, dropped bits and random resets. Now the new system is approaching completion, Basil is working perfectly again, and is currently hunting for the eighth perfect number. The new system (currently unnamed and there’s a signed copy of Dark Star for anyone who can do this) is bigger, faster and has a BOX!!!!. It has provided Simon with such niceties as one megabyte source files, multi-tasking and a very nice display. All of which will probably be needed in the creation of Forbidden Planet.
On the subject of the forthcoming programs, I shall reveal as much as the security minded programmers will let me. Graham’s Game is to be set way way off in the future. The idea is an extrapolation of today’s technology. Consider a society where everyone sits at home and works at a computer terminal. Central government would become a large computer based in the Houses of Parliament linking all MPs and Whitehall bods together, enabling them to ‘work’ in comfort from their homes. We took this idea further, to the point where London is no longer a city but a vast computing complex and its supporting facilities. One day some Whitehallesque bright spark manages to set a program running to analyse the way the country is run, and see if it could be performed more efficiently by the computer alone.
Needless to say, the computer decides it can do a better job, and said bright spark sets the Mega-machine (probably one of Simon’s creations) in motion.
And so the country is taken over by a collection of jumped up pocket calculators. Your job will be to persuade the Mega-machine that humans know best and wrest control back from it. To assist you in overcoming this electronic ego, there will be a robotic K9-esque dog (provisionally named KY). This ‘creature’ will be able to perform various feats of electronic wizardry, and rescue you should you fall prey to one of the many traps scattered about the complex.
As to what the actual screen will show when you are playing the game, to quote Graham, ‘I want lots of trogging about and icons!’ so expect multiple screens, lateral thinking problems, more of Stuart’s graphics and the irrepressible KY. Graham has mentioned something about masking, though we don’t know if he’s on about attacking people in Birmingham, or something flash done with graphics!
And so on to the Forbidden Program. The Image by Suggestion fast graphics developed for Dark Star will return with a lot more game bolted on. The scenario is the post Dark Star galaxy: the revolution which you headed managed to free the galaxy from the Evil Lord’s repression, but the planet on which he developed all his military hardware remains undefeated. It remains a threat to the newly established Federation, and is ready to launch a second bid for galactic supremacy at any time. Your task is to find a way to destroy this planet given the resources of a galaxy still recovering from a war. There will be many ways of attaining this goal, strategy again playing a key part in this part of the game. There is also a time factor, the longer you spend refining your forces and developing a space fighter capable of taking on the Forbidden Planet’s defences the more likely is the launch of an attack from the Evil Lord’s planet.
Assuming you get to the Forbidden Planet before it gets to you, (It’s already got to Simon!) the forces of the Evil Lord will be found dispersed around the planet’s surface. Raids on these will delay the impending attack, but to prevent it, you must destroy the planet’s ability to develop its advanced weaponry. The development hangars are located deep within the planet and will not be easy to get at. Should you actually manage to complete the game there will be another program on the tape to keep you amused. Que? SPECTACLE 2! (Simon has just peered morosely over my shoulder and announced ‘I think you’re being very optimistic.’ This is the sort of encouraging comment one can expect from a programmer!).
For those of you who still haven’t seen SPECTACLE, and there’s a few of you out there judging from the number of phone calls we’ve been getting, the passwords are:
EVERYONE’S A NERVOUS WRECK
Type that in at your peril.
Well that’s it, another masterpiece completed. My thanks to Graham who has sat faithfully by my side, doing a very good impersonation of a spell-check program. I shall close now and go and argue about whose car we take down to CRASH (Here we go, the old debate about which Astra’s got the better gearbox for the Ludlow roads!) and who pays for the petrol. I wonder if I can con Graham into making some coffee at this point.
‘Hey, Graham .......’