According to my scribbled notes (made in haste), I’m sure Steve Turner referred to his new game as the ‘something Mage’. Not, perhaps, the most exciting working title ever, and especially in view of the fact that this particular something promises to be something of a breakthrough. The event was a press meeting at Hewson Consultants new premises near Abingdon, Oxfordshire, when programmer Steve Turner (The 3D Seiddab Trilogy) unveiled his latest project — a few working screens of a 3D adventure.
The new game is an adventure in the sense that there is a quest and traditional problem or puzzle solving to undertake, but it hovers on the verge of arcade, because all the situations are fully and graphically illustrated in 3D and there are several arcade sequences. Amazingly the game will include 255 locations, all illustrated with rooms both large and small, caves and tunnels. There are also as many as 255 illustrated objects planned. The action takes place in a dynamic environment — in other words, things move when you’re not looking and it is populated like an ant’s nest with about 10 main characters and countless guards and other cyphers.
Steve only had a few screens working at the meeting, but from these it was possible to get a good idea of what the game will look like. Rooms are described in strong 3D which incorporates full parallax movement, most noticeable in rooms where objects are attached to the transparent wall through which you appear to be looking at the scene.
The game starts with you, a wizard, camping out by your night time fire. The sky flashes with lightning and an evil ‘presence’ sends you on an errand into the castle. For the rest, you’ll just have to wait until September when the game is due to be released. One interesting development in this game is that Steve has been working on the idea that a new game will take up from where the old one left off in the sense that your ‘previous’ life will have ‘mucked around’ with the objects, so that in subsequent lives, you will have to cope with the results of actions committed in the life before. Of course this will only hold true until you NEW and reload. Although the game will have the use of some 100 magical spells, and several screen commands, everything is joystick-driven — no typing of commands needed. On top of that there is the joy of 3D animation of the type to be seen in 3D Lunattack. Can’t wait!
Poppy Soft’s latest release, Factory Breakout, looks set to become an arcade winner, and is certainly a very original game. Last year Poppy Soft brought out Laser Snaker and ran a competition in conjunction with the game. They are now pleased to announce the winner of the competition. He is Mr James Garrett of Sutton, in Surrey. Mr Garrett receives a cheque for £100 and an advance copy of Factory Breakout. Runners-up also receive copies of the new game.
To cap off the day at Hewsons, came the news that their adventure Fantasia Diamond, entered in for a French adventure game competition (as reported last issue) had won Le prix du Meilleur Scenario for the best game scenario in the prestigious Grand Prix Internationale du Logiciel d’Adventure (ah zose French) organised by major software distributors Video Telemart Report. This win has led immediately to a substantial order for the game — but in French language. Work is already well under way! So are plans for Dutch and German versions. Rumours that Hewson’s are translating the game into Russian, Mandarin Chinese and Australian are probably a little exaggerated! As everyone knows, the Australians don’t have to buy software, they just seem to rip it off.
Bogus software company Spirit Software, who widely advertised a game called Formula One and boasted it would come complete with a steering wheel joystick for £8.95, are being investigated by London’s Metropolitan Police. A Mr Alexander is being sought, not only by the authorities, but also by the several magazines who accepted his advertisements and have not been paid. Mr Alexander has been a rather shadowy figure on the software scene for some time, and his name has been associated with some other companies of dubious honesty.
The Kensington police, responsible for the investigation, are returning cheques sent in by mail order customers to Spirit Software. These are only those cheques which were still uncashed at the time of Mr Alexander’s disappearance. Customers whose cheques and postal orders have been cashed are unlikely to see their money back.
The Spectrum’s full capabilities have rarely been used fully by those wishing for serious applications like word processing because of the small rubberised keys and membrane keypad. This makes fast typing almost an impossibility. But now Advanced Memory System’s Lo Profile keyboard comes to the rescue.
The Spectrum’s PCB is placed inside the keyboard housing in such a way that all connections for TV, cassette, power and interface use ports at the rear of the unit. There is no need to adapt any of the connections.
The keyboard features a full length spacebar and a dedicated numeric pad. The keyboard increases the Spectrum’s 40 keys to 53. All the keys carry full labelling of characters, commands and functions as on the Spectrum’s own keyboard. Together with the height-adjusted layout of the key rows, the Lo Profile allows for full speed typing.
AMS are known for their 3in disc drives for the BBC Micro, but now they feel they have achieved a high standard add-on for the Spectrum as well with the new Lo Profile keyboard. It is available from selected Spectrum dealers or direct by mail priced £49.95 plus £2.50 for p&p from Advanced Memory Systems, Cheshire.
London’s computer magazine offices have been terrorised recently by the appearance of two gangsters who have caused mayhem and uproar. The visits were a part of a promotional campaign to launch Mugsy, the new comic strip strategy game from Melbourne House. Publicity Manager Paula Brynes, was hoping to arrange some similar act of dastardliness for the CRASH offices, but apparently gangsterism doesn’t stretch farther north than Watford. There are some advantages to publishing from the country!
DK’Tronics have brought out a programmable interface for the Spectrum. This can be programmed from the keyboard, or with the machine code software supplied, and allows all possible combinations to be programmed, i.e. left, right, fire, etc. all at the same time. The keyboard is not rendered inactive so that both joystick and keyboard can be used while the program is running. The port accepts any Atari D-type joystick and the interface is compatible with Interface 1 and Microdrives. It also has a through connector for add-on expansion. The programmable Joystick Interface retails at £22.95 and is available now.
Looking remarkably like one of those doobries they use in stores for recording the details of your Access or Barclaycard, is the new programmable interface for the Spectrum from AGF. Called the Protocol 4, it is designed to give compatibility of any joystick or trackball with absolutely all Spectrum software. In essence the Protocol 4 is a fully hardware programmable joystick interface, but it has been designed to be easy to use with credit-card style programming cards.
Snap-in program cards configure a membrane keypad and with the preset cards supplied it interfaces four in one: AGF/Protek, Kempston and Sinclair 1 or 2. Extra packs of cards are available for £3.95 (pack of five).
Protocol 4 has a side entry joystick port and rear expansion ports and retails at £29.95 (plus £1 p&p direct from AGF). AGF Hardware, West Sussex.
Level 9, who may have been the first UK firm to start an adventure help service, have always sent written replies to queries about their adventure games. But now they are supplying comprehensive clue sheets which provide alphabetical lists of the objects, creatures and trickiest locations in each adventure. They have up to 580 entries which should sort out most adventurers’ problems. They are free to players who send a stamped addressed envelope to Level 9 Computing, Bucks.
If the witch Magra seems a bit tetchy it’s possibly because she’s been rather delayed (buses not running properly again). But arrived she has — wrath and all. No, there isn’t a review in this issue, that’s asking too much! Everything has gone off to Derek Brewster so watch out in the next issue. Meanwhile, to keep you all going, here’s a couple of screen pictures!
Keep an eye peeled for new software house VENTAMATIC. This company is new to Britain, and hails from Barcelona, Spain. Review copies of some of their new Spectrum releases arrived too late for review in this issue, but they’ll certainly be appearing in the next. The games include Crazy Climber, The Builder, Martian Tunnels and Wreckage. More news next month.
Dataclone, the cassette duplication company has introduced a new production technique which they claim will help combat piracy. The new system is called Power Load and has been developed by Incentive Software Limited (Splat, Mountains of Ket, etc). The system is exclusively licenced to Dataclone.
It is claimed that using Power Load for duplication results in cassettes which are extremely hard to copy on any system, either by bit copying, audio copying or code breaking, as only by unique software control can the program be duplicated by the pirate.
Additionally Power Load, using data compression techniques reduced the cassette’s loading time drastically, a CBM 64 by two-thirds and a Spectrum program by one half.
On the subject of Incentive Software Ltd., it has just expanded to the tune of Darryl Still. Still (22) has joined the Reading-based company as Co-ordination Manager responsible for marketing and administration. He previously worked as manager of a large computer shop in Reading. Incentive is now looking for another in-house programmer to assist in its continued expansion. That Ian Andrew is obviously empire building on the success of his Splat Mats!
Ocean have moved into new premises in Manchester. The 4,000 square feet of offices house new facilities for Ocean’s team of in-house programmers.
New equipment for extra processing power has also gone into the new Central Street premises. Included is an emulator for Z80 machines with hard-disc storage back-up for routines.