Another early version it seems existed of another Domark game, this time of the terrible Hard Drivin’ game conversion being worked on. Just how did the Spectrum receive a fantastic conversion, and we get this game? (The game was so bad that it didn’t get a full release on its own – only through compilation and budget).
Zzap in 1990 had the screenshot you can see below which depicted a very slightly more colourful conversion.
The artist behind the loading picture confirmed to GTW64 that the above screenshot from Zzap was infact an earlier version of the released game, but there was also an earlier version of Hard Drivin’ being done by a completely different programmer (who we believe to have been someone at Binary Design). The developer hit a lot of troubles trying to get the game finished – though apparently not that much was actually running, so they gave up and called it quits (Never to work for Domark again). This left Domark with no game, and so they drafted someone else in quickly to finish things.
However, advertising had already been spent we assume and there was a deadline. In typical “Total Recall” fashion, the developer had just two weeks to get it complete, and from scratch! The team was not given any code or assets to work with, the new team started from scratch.
The panel you see in the screenshot is an earlier staged version of the panel graphics by Andrew McCarthy, which were then changed later to a final version with hi-res elements. Apparently this version was running actually at a decent framerate (believed to be around twice the speed of the final game) with both tracks included. The problem came when the other cars on the track were introducted, which really caused issues – of which there was no time to solve as Domark was desperate to release the game.
The artist behind the loading screen felt that the second developer got the shitty end of the stick trying to do a complex game from scratch in two weeks. But he was young and eager and should not of taken it on. Sadly he no longer works in the industry and left in 2000 after being messed around by publishers, ridiculous requests, lack of regular funding and ever changing schedules.
Overall this now explains why Hard Drivin’ which we all know on the C64 turned out like it did. It was not the result of lazy programming, but a developer up against it and with a silly deadline to work to.
Sure, had the developer had more time – it may have still been an average conversion, but we may have had something more like the Spectrum version (just lacking on speed). Maybe we have been a little harsh over the years therefore without knowing the full picture until now? The game’s loading screen artist was very surprised that Domark even bothered to release it.
Now the hunt is on to try and find out the original developer of the earlier version and see if anything remains of this version – but also maybe of this slightly better looking version of the second developed game. Has either survived after all this time though?…
Contributions: Greg Foster, Ross Sillifant, Mike Day